Do Women Really Make Better Leaders Than Men?
There has been a lot of conversation in mainstream media highlighting powerful women on the rise. There’s Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead; Marissa Mayer, newly appointed CEO of Yahoo!; and Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, to name a few very obvious selections. As a result, this (long overdue) attention on powerful women has led some people to ask the question: “Do women make better leaders than men?”
When in actuality, this is not the question we should be asking. The goal is not to prove that one gender is better at demonstrating leadership skills than the other. That is not the driving point in advocating that women take their fair and equal share of leadership positions.
It is not a question of who is better, but rather a challenge of the status quo and expanding the leadership pool – in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, etc. – to be equally and fairly representative of the population being led.
In terms of gender parity in political representation specifically, former Pennsylvania Congresswoman and Founder and President of Women’s Campaign International Marjorie Margolies stated in an interview that as women, “We’re underrepresented. Period. I think we’re not better or worse, I think we’re different. And that difference should be represented at the table.”
Margolies points out that it’s not about being better than men or fostering this unhealthy sense of competition, but rather there is a dire need to diversify the leadership in this country. If the same few types of people are the only ones with any sort of power or influence, then of course, nothing is going to change.
When I hear someone say “women make better leaders than men” I genuinely believe it is coming from a good place. I believe that person wants gender equality just as much as I do. However, if we are to truly reach a collective understanding of gender equality, than we must move away from this skewed (and false I might add) perception of the feminist/women’s movement as one that is trying to place women above men.
It was never supposed to be a competition.
Are women and men different? Yes. Just as Christians are different than Atheists, people in their 70s are different than people in their 20s, and people who grew up in the Midwest are different than people who grew up on the East Coast. But that’s what makes this world we live in so amazing and chaotic at the same time. There are so many different kinds of people to create, innovate, teach, and inspire that we are always left with hope for a better tomorrow. As Audre Lorde so wisely once said, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
And so my answer to those who pose the question, “Do women make better leaders than men?” would be that it’s not about who is better, it’s about accessibility. Maybe the question we should be asking is: how do we create better leaders?
The answer: more women in leadership positions. Not because women are better, but because women make up 50.8% of the population in the United States. Isn’t it about time our leadership reflected that?
Kaitlin writes about current events, pop culture, and innovative ways to promote gender equality through online advocacy. Read more of Kaitlin’s posts here.
About the Author
Kaitlin Rattigan is a recent graduate with an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution with a concentration in Gender and Peacebuilding. She is a firm believer in social media as an effective and meaningful tool to promote positive societal change. Never underestimate the power of 140 characters. Kaitlin is a voice for the Millennials, a constructive disruptionist, an advocate for women’s leadership, and is a believer in challenging and expanding the definitions of what it means to be a feminist. For gender-analytical fem-tastic commentary on current events, follow Kaitlin @KaitlinRattigan. Do you have an issue you want highlighted on The Movement Blog? Is there an area within women’s leadership that you feel passionate about and want to share with a wide audience? Feel free to send Kaitlin a DM or Tweet to @KaitlinRattigan with the hashtag #Women2025 and let’s keep the conversation going and work together to propel women into their equal share of leadership positions by 2025.