Globalization of marketplaces, information availability in terms of speed and volume andincreased competitiveness has changed the way of leadership requirements. During the last yearsof critical economic situations the leadership discussion in respect to gender has been extended.Leaders are expected to avoid critical economic situations and perform effectively during crisesto overcome them in a short time period. The demand for highly qualified leaders is increasingand companies are starting initiatives to increase their attractiveness for the competition ofpotential highly talented employees. Leadership requirements have changed over the past years. Bass (Bass, 1985) introduced newleadership styles namely transactional and transformational leadership. He suggested that leaderswho succeed in affecting their followers to transcend self-interests for the benefit of the group ororganization to achieve extraordinary goals would be characterized as transformational.Contrastingly, managers who solely induce the most basic exchanges with their followersembody transactional leadership. Over the last 25 years transformational and transactionalleadership styles have dominated the study of leadership. It can be stated that the role of theleader is changing to meet the fast growing needs of the economy. Leaders become more coacheswho are setting the stage for innovation and growth opportunities by enabling a diverseworkforce to create business opportunities. The changing role of the leader opens opportunitiesfor women to step up as a leader as women tend to perform a transformational leadership style.1
In addition the educational level of women has increased tremendously over the last decades.Nowadays more than 50% of graduates across the European Union are women (Eurostat, 2015b).In view of this improvement in female education, it is all the more remarkable that women’spresence in top management jobs is still small. Despite good skills and education of femalepopulation, women are underrepresented in top level business positions. This circumstanceallows to state that women face various barriers for accessing top management positions. Tocounteract this reality, compulsory female quotes have been introduced for the board of directorcomposition in some Western European countries. There is a business case for having more women in top level business positions. Since bothwomen and men are part of the worldwide population and possess certain talents it would bewasteful to ignore women when so many businesses struggle to fill high powered jobs. Inaddition women are nowadays generally better educated than men (Eurostat, 2015b). Especiallyin times of skilled employee shortage in Western European countries there is a high need tocapitalize female potential. However, gender inequality still exists in Western and EasternEuropean countries and even African countries. Women are underrepresented in the labourmarket in general as well as in top level business positions and earn less compared to men. In Kenya, women hold 44, or 9.5 per cent, of the 462 board seats of the 55 companies listed onthe Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). Twenty-three of the companies – less than half – havewomen directors, and those with female board members are majority-owned by multinationals. A2004 study on “Gender Equality at Board Decision Level in Mauritius” revealed that only 23 percent of women are represented on Mauritian Public Boards (excluding state-owned companies)versus 19 per cent in the private sector. A document of the Gender Monitoring Office in Rwanda “Gender Baseline and key indicators infour sectors: Decision Making, Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Private Sector, 2011” indicatesthat women were 12.5 per cent of private sector company board members.In South Africa, the proportion of board directors of 309 public companies and 20 state ownedenterprises who were women increased, from 7.1 per cent in 2004 to 17.1 per cent in 2012. The2
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