increasing women in leadership and political participation

Women in Leadership – The Challenges faced increasing women’s leadership and political participation

Women’s leadership and political participation has become one of societies hottest topics in the political sphere of discussion, as women in leadership roles continues to grow.

There are many opinions about why there is a lack of women in politics, and the political system and those who influence and fund it can better encourage more participation by women.

Out of a total of 193 UN nations only 9 have women in leadership roles; as either prime minister, president or some suitably otherwise named national leadership role. This represents a measly five per cent of UN nations who have women in leadership roles.

Women in Leadership roles within the political arena is not a new or modern thing. It is not something that has just suddenly started to happen in the few decades as a result societal change.

The reality is, women have been leaders, and good, powerful, respected leaders throughout history and have been involved in politics and ruling nations for many, many centuries.

Historical Women in Leadership Roles

Cleopatra – Egypt

One of the most famous women in leadership is of course, Cleopatra, or Cleopatra VII Philopator to afford her her full title. She was the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family which ruled Egypt for over 300 years.

Cleopatra was born in 69 BC and her father was Ptolemy XII, who reigned from 51 to 47 BC and she had three older siblings, two sisters and one brother.

This means she did not simply ascend to the role of leader; she had to literally fight her brother, make alliances and cheat death on a number occasions in order to take up her leadership role.

Ancient Egypt had a tradition of their pharaoh’s being men, and whilst the historical record is a bit sketchy, there has been 3 or 4 female pharaoh’s over a period of the many thousands of years spanned by the dynastic Egyptians.

Wu Zetian – China

Other very prominent female leaders from history include Wu Zetian, who is probably the the most famous female leader in China’s very long history. She ruled as the Empress of China for 15 years from AD690 during the Zhou Dynasty.

Catherine II – Russia

Catherine II became Empress of Russia in 1762 and brought much needed and well received new ideas and inspiration: Russian culture, art, literature as well as the country’s economy thrived during her reign.

Queen Victoria – Great Britain

Queen Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom from 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign is known as the Victorian era, which was a period of cultural, scientific, industrial and military change.

Her lasting influence on the UK culture, history and language can still be seen today with Victorian houses, architecture, and furniture, all being commonplace in our society today.

Indira Gandi – India

Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of India, from 1966 until her death in 1984. Her power and ambition were unmatched, but what’s most important is that she was a trailblazing woman who did much for her country and still remembered and respected today.

This list could go on and on and on of women who have risen to become leaders and left an indelible mark on history.

What are the Barriers to Women’s Political Participation?

There are many barriers to women’s political participation, such as, the lack of access to funding, the lack of representation in the media and low levels of current representation negatively impact women’s involvement in political processes.

Because political leadership roles have, until recent times, been seen as a “man’s job”, women have less access than men when it comes to connecting with influential people within the political halls of power.

This is due to the fact that when it comes to the informal networks, which are used to garner support and funding for political campaigns, these are also historically exclusively “men only” clubs or organisations.

These traditions have seen women excluded from such networks, which still give men an advantage over women when it comes to political involvement.

The Worm is Turning

The proportion of women to men, in leadership and senior management roles, grew to 29% in 2019. This is the highest increase on record.

As these figures suggest, the working environment in the business world has been changing for many years now, and it is no longer just a man’s world. However, from the most experienced women leaders to emerging young female leaders there are still challenges.

The main challenge is that board rooms and leadership roles are dominated by men. However, this creates a unique opportunity for women to stand out and make an impact.

Take me for example, in my previous career, by the time I was 30, I was the only woman on an all-male Board of a listed company.

I was nervous of course, but my innate drive & ambition saw me through, I knew my subject area inside-out, and frankly – I am quite an assertive, dynamic person, who wasn’t about to be talked over. 

But the experience was exhausting at times, having to hold my own, and feeling quite isolated.

The Benefits of Women in Leadership

Purdue University undertook an in-depth study, comparing male and female leaders.

The study was entitled “Gender and the Evaluation of Leaders” and it revealed female leaders were far more transformational than their male counterparts, and demonstrated more contingent reward behaviour. The men on the other hand, demonstrated a more two-dimensional approach of passive and active management.

In another study, the World Economic Forum found that countries with higher female representation in government are more peaceful than those with a low representation.

Countries with the highest levels of women in government have a median score of just one point on the Global Peace Index, whilst countries with the lowest levels have a median score of 4.5 points on the Global Peace Index.

It also found that women are far more likely to make decisions that prioritise cooperation and dialogue over violence and aggression.

Organisations with a higher representation of women in leadership roles and on their boards markedly outperformed the organisations that don’t and, studies have also outlined that companies with greater gender diversity, not only in their workforce but directly among senior leaders, are significantly more profitable than those without.

A report by McKinsey & Company found greater gender diversity on the senior executive team corresponded to an improved bottom line. For every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings before interest and taxes rose by 3.5%.

Sarah Jones Leadership Coaching and Women in Leadership

There are many qualities that make a great leader. However, the most important is their ability to lead with empathy. Leadership coaching can teach you to stay calm in high-stress situations, communicate effectively and use your voice. It can also increase your communication skills, improve time management and help you manage difficult conversations more effectively.

If you are a woman, who is an aspiring leader, politician of the future, or a political party looking to prepare your female candidates for roles in leadership, then please contact Sarah who can help you achieve your goals.

The first step on your path to success starts with a free, confidential, 30-minute consultation with Sarah, so don’t delay and book today.

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