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Why isn’t Equality in Leadership Skills Changing the Number of Female Leaders?

Why isn’t Equality in Leadership Skills Changing the Number of Female Leaders?


Here’s a fresh angle on the particular gender divide in leadership: Women and men score nearly evenly in their potential to drive organisations, but less women are able to get further than lower-level leadership positions.

The results comes to life through a new study conducted by DDI. The report is really a synthesis of evaluations completed by 15,000 participants being considered for leadership from the front lines to executive levels at 300 organisations in 18 nations. DDI examined the information from personality and intelligence assessments as well as from “day-in-the-life” simulations that allowed individuals to display their skills.

“This communicates to women: It’s alright to be a lower-level leader, but you’re not yet ready to elevate to the top.”

DDI’s report (like others) implies that gender equality in leadership continues to have a great distance to go, regardless of the equity in scores. Their conclusions demonstrate that the ratio of men to women chosen to complete these assessments was weighted in support of male participants. In accordance with the report’s authors, since these evaluations represent investment, they may be a dependable indicator of gender diversity among high-potential leaders.

“Far more women are chosen as candidates for evaluation at lower leader levels than at senior levels,” the authors write.”This communicates to women: It’s okay to be a lower-level leader, but you’re not yet ready to elevate to the top.” But maybe not even that. At the operational level, the gender split is 75% men to 25% women.


This plays into discoveries from the recent McKinsey/LeanIn.org study, which demonstrated that over the advancement board, from entry level to manager and from SVP to executive rank, women are less likely to advance, with the greatest disparity taking place between manager to director. Women are just 79% as prone to reach that level, when compared with 100% of men.

The McKinsey/LeanIn.org study suggests two trends standing in the clear way of women rising within the ranks. Even though the chances of advancement is the same at entry level, it drops off as fewer women accept roles that result in executive leadership roles. More women are normally found in departments including HR, legal, and IT, where job responsibilities don’t directly impact the bottom line.

However a Deloitte study demonstrated that even between lower-ranking millennials, the discrepancy was evident. Twenty-one percent of millennial men said they lead a department or are members of their organisation’s senior management team vs. 16% of women

DDI’s research contributes to those findings indicating that the reason there aren’t more women in high-level leadership isn’t rooted in lower competence. In reality, examining the variations between men and women on business drivers demonstrated that there have been no statistically substantial differences, and neither gender got very high scores.

Precisely what are business drivers? Evan Sinar, PhD, DDI’s chief scientist, tells us they are a focused group of broad leadership obstacles that leaders totally must conquer to implement the organisation’s business strategy. “They supply the crucial business framework by which leader preparedness is evaluated.” He adds, “They are assessed by mapping both abilities and personality factors (including both enablers and derailing aspects of personality) to each driver.”

Also, he hints that the handful of them “force important conversations about prioritisation of leadership growth targets.”

Individuals were scored on a four-point scale which range from Not Ready (lowest), to Development Needed, to Ready to Strength (highest). “Because the typical score is lower than three, we realise that typically, leaders fall between the Development Needed and Ready points,” Sinar says. Higher scores mean a increased percentage of leaders which are Ready.

According to the report’s authors:

We’ve also heard considerable discussion about men being better at the “harder” side of business, while women shine in the “softer” side. But in exploring the “softer” versus “harder” business drivers, there is very little support of this proposition.

Significant distinctions did arise on three character traits:


Men scored 16% higher, which DDI attributes to several possible reasons, including the fact that there are more men in STEM careers that both reinforce and reward structured inquiry. “Also notable are cultural attitudes and practices,” the report’s authors write. “In some countries, women entering the workforce were raised in an environment that reinforced silence over curiosity.”


Men scored 11% higher than women on this trait. “We surmise that men are reinforced to ‘just do it’ without considering consequences,” the report’s authors write. Women tend to behave more cautiously, particularly when considering a promotion, based on recent research from Harvard Business School. DDI’s researchers posit that women can also be encouraged to not proceed until they’re sure they are able to take action perfectly.

Interpersonal sensitivity.

This is actually the personality trait by which women got 13% higher marks, which is a good thing, particularly when leaders are in positions that depend on their demeanour and interactions with other people.

The research authors encourage companies to think about emphasising all kinds of diversity by promoting support groups, flexible schedules, sponsoring networking opportunities, and mentoring.

DDI’s researchers discovered that almost two-thirds of women have not had an official mentor. “Even one good mentor ensures they are more prone to climb the organisational ladder,” they are saying.

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