Do men make better managers than women?

6 June 2016

In a real world setting it is difficult to prove that ‘men are better managers than women’. This essay focuses on critiquing this statement; furthermore is currently a controversial issue. A manager is defined as “an individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks, or a certain subset of a company. A manager often has a staff of people who report to him or her (1).”Societies invariably have different views in relation to what they constitute as a good manager. Large scale movements of feminist ideology have developed in the modern era. In the past century women have endeavoured to gain an equal status as men, as well as improving living standards. As men and women generally employ different management styles, such influences would have a substantial effect upon organisational culture and performance.

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Each type of leadership has a number of strengths and weaknesses. Many women find it difficult to balance work, in contrast to men, which is mainly due to time constraints and caring responsibilities. Historically there are disparities in the level of qualifications held between both genders. In contrast to men, women are also more likely to take breaks from paid work, in order to take care of dependents. Women therefore have fewer opportunities to broaden their career prospects due to household commitments. As a result this makes it more difficult for women to gain promotion to higher positions and better paid jobs within businesses. This and many other variables may coalesce to construct a ‘glass ceiling.’

Many females find that a male orientated corporate culture as a major obstacle to their individual success. Women have fewer opportunities to broaden their career prospects, due to household commitments. The emancipation of women in recent decades has transformed the composition of the UK labour market; furthermore ONS forecasts show that the increasing trend in female participation is likely to continue. Considerable differences in pay between men and women does currently exist; even if the nature of work is similar or the same. Although the government have introduced legislation to protect women, there is evidence suggesting that gender discrimination currently exists. On the contrary ONS publications do suggest that progress is being made in narrowing wage differentials between men and women. From the companies listed on the FTSE 100, 17 companies have female executive directors and women hold only 17% of board positions (2).

Women carry out 20% of senior management roles in the UK (3). This shows that a high proportion of top management jobs are carried out by males, furthermore the UK government are considering using quotas to promote gender diversity in the boardroom. The government have introduced its first gender quota, which are targeted at large UK banks. These types of financial institutions are required to set quotas in the boardroom for women, and as of 2014 have a legal responsibility to “publish a policy relating to how the targets they set themselves for women in senior roles will be achieved and potentially report on progress (4).” Critics put forward the idea that women are more risk averse compared to their male counterparts. Some feminists argue that the men were there main contributors to the financial crisis, as a majority of senior people in banks, regulatory bodies and the government are predominantly male.

Conversely it is difficult to envisage the alternative, in the case where a larger proportion of senior positions were women. By having a more gender balanced workforce, a mixture of leadership styles of both men and women can help minimise weaknesses associated with each gender. In most cases women have a transformational leadership style, whereas men’s leadership style is usually transactional. Certain leadership styles may be more suited to particular industries, such as a transactional leadership in the manufacturing industry. As a result of masculine stereotypes women may find difficulty in entering or being promoted in industries that have a high concentration of males.

Male managers would tell employees what to do, whereas female managers are more likely to take part in joint decision making exercises with their employees. The transformational approach focuses upon relationships, whereas the transactional approach concentrates on performance, both of which are important. Compared to male managers, female managers are more likely to consider how their own behaviour/ decisions would affect other stakeholders. This is generally why men take larger risks compared to women, furthermore men do not seriously consider their actions this could have a detrimental effect on the business. Men and women both have different types of emotional intelligence. Men generally dominate top management positions as they are able to work independently and better under stress in comparison to women.

Emotional intelligence tests show that women could possibly be better managers in the future, as they usually have better results in interpersonal areas results in comparison to men, as the corporate world is changing and teamwork is an essential function. To conclude, these generalisations about both genders may not be the case for all. Overall men may be better managers than women, as empirical evidence shows that top management positions are dominated by males. Businesses would simply want to recruit and retain the best managers. Females would simply have top management positions if internal stakeholders felt they would be the best candidate to direct, operate and manage resources within the organisation.

Gender discrimination can bring about a number of issues to our society, as females would find it difficult to find a job in which they are able to fully utilise their skills and abilities. Equally businesses that use this form of discrimination have a smaller pool of labour to recruit from, which may raise their production costs. Under these circumstances it would make them less competitive at a national and international level. Gender should not however be used to establish the best candidates to take on managerial positions, as this would not make economic sense. Other factors such as experience, knowledge, skills and abilities should be key determinants.

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