Women’s leadership is becoming increasingly demanded in the modern world
The Second Eurasian Women’s Forum took place in Saint Petersburg on September 19-21. Dr. Myonghee Kim, Professor and Advisor of Asia Pacific Women's Information Network Center of Sookmyung Women’s University in the Republic of Korea, presented the work of her organisation. She is a real professional. Few people speak about the necessity of promoting women’s economic empowerment through information and communication technology (ICT) and enhancing female leadership better than Dr. Myonghee Kim can.
As regards the potential of ICTs for women’s economic empowerment, ICTs can offer many opportunities for women in this digital age. First of all, ICT-based businesses can be operated free from time and place constraints. This results in flexibility that allows women to balance professional lives and family lives better. Taking care of children, performing household duties, and, at the same time, being engaged in work requires huge efforts; however, modern technologies can help women to start and manage their professional lives more easily. In addition, e-commerce does not require a huge amount of capital, compared with traditional businesses, for example, capital for setting up a physical store, but reduces the cost for business. E-commerce, which is playing an ever-increasing role in the current digital economy, accordingly, attracts more and more women to engage in business.
Another significant gender issue that needs to be sufficiently addressed is ‘female leadership.’ Great achievements have been made around the world as regards female leadership, but there still remains a long way to go. In general, many people easily associate leadership with masculine characteristics, such as aggressiveness, ambition, charisma, and force, and this poses a threat to female leadership. Women have to go through a glass ceiling to reach leadership positions, and this, thus, results in much lower number of female leaders than male counterparts.
It is recognized, however, that, as far as leadership is concerned, the 21th century is creating new favorable conditions for women to be on an equal footing with men. First of all, the new age requires a new leadership style. The current age is characterized by features, such as fast technological development framed by the 4th industrial revolution, enormously competitive business environments, need for creating new values to survive competition and for promoting cooperation among group members, creativity, and enhanced awareness of human rights, and demand for more democratic, human-centric management. It is claimed that traditional types of leadership, which largely represent masculine characteristics, does not correspond to the new model of the 21st century any more. In order to adequately cope with the new demands of the new age, leadership style must be transformed from an authoritarian, patriarchal, command-based one to a democratic, flexible, caring, communication-oriented one. Due to their previous experiences in living more or less marginal lives and, also, experiences as a mother and housewife, women have developed competencies that new leadership style requires. Women’s strengths as leaders include high level of empathy, sensitiveness, and carefulness. They have potential to become leaders focused on autonomy, equality, and communication. A woman leader is able to convey her point of view to her employees and thus involve them in leadership. This is the very format of collaboration the world should strive to.
Second, the role of women in economy is increasing every day. One may be surprised, but statistically women make decisions on the purchases by 72-80% of cases including major ones, for example, a car or a house. Furthermore, values mostly associated with a woman are becoming increasingly important for economy. Such knowledge accordingly makes huge impacts on companies’ business strategies. Today, many companies not only try to identify women’s tastes and preferences but also increase the number of women in their personnel and also in their leadership positions.
According to Myonghee Kim, positive relations between women’s leadership and practical results of their employees’ work are becoming increasingly noticeable. A number of research studies show that, statistically, the more women are on the board of directors, the better is the company’s financial performance.
There are so many reasons why women’s leadership should be promoted that it is hardly possible to cover them all in research works. However, one thing is clear: irrespective of their personal traits and preferences, women are able to improve company’s performance, create more democratic and caring human relationships, and help to add values to other employees, assisting those who need their support. A good mood in a woman-led collective fills its members with positivity and energy for further work in a comfortable and friendly environment.
Elmira Mustafayeva, Nikolay Gavrilov, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov