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A Critical Discussion of the Statement “Actually Women Are Too Weak for Management” in Terms of Gender Issues Within the Organization


The last few decades have seen an increase in the number of women in management. This has been a result of a shift in attitude towards the idea of women in managerial positions since it has been noted that women are better at interpersonal relationships; thereby, they make better managers, i.e., the Feminine advantage. As Heilamn (2012) indicated, despite this step towards gender equality, the idea that women are too weak for managerial positions persists in many organizations worldwide. This has been a drawback in the process of gender equality. Even though more women are undertaking managerial positions, they are still overwhelmingly underrepresented when it comes to seniority in the management hierarchy within many organizations (Coder and Spiller, 2013). This paper critically analyses this “women are too weak for management” mindset in the context of gender issues within these organizations and what this mindset apprises about male management in a corporate system that men have dominated.


Gender Stereotyping

One of the reasons that this mindset persists is gender stereotyping. Sexist stereotypes dictate that women portray characteristics such as sensitivity and warmth, and these characteristics are considered disadvantageous in managerial positions as they are incongruent with what a male-dominated corporate system considers a great leader (Castano, Fontanil, and Garcia, 2019). The common idea of a good manager is a result-oriented and risk-taking individual. These characteristics are not synonymous with women; therefore, women are subjected to a prejudiced judgment of their managerial competence, resulting in fewer women being promoted to managerial positions. Having a male-dominated corporate system only makes this idealism worse for women. Heilman (2012) points out that many people on the corporate ladder define good leaders as having masculine characteristics, and they consider feminine characteristics detrimental to good leadership. This goes to show the level of sexism within the corporate system.

The stereotype of think manager-think masculine makes many organizations think that women do not have what it takes to take managerial positions. However, this type of thinking is predominantly among men. Women in the workplace prefer or have less resistance toward managers having feminine characteristics (Elsesser and Lever, 2011). This can be generally attributed to the similarity attraction effect whereby individuals are partial to people whore are like them. This is indicative of the idea that female employees like managers who are women and who have feminine characteristics. Turner and Reynolds (2010) point out that this goes to show that the idea that women are too weak for management is a classic case of social identity theory. Men are biased in the thinking of masculine characteristics being better for management since men like masculine characteristics because they are synonymous with their social group (Hogg, van Knippenberg, and Rast, 2012). The fact that women prefer feminine characteristics in leaders proves this bias showing that the “women are weak for management” is just a misconception from a male-dominated corporate system.

This stereotype is difficult to do away with because most institutions do not have the substantial female managers to disprove it. Heilman (2012) argues that if the organizations had substantial evidence to disprove this misconception, the bias would change, and stereotypes would less influence the promotion of women into managerial positions. There has been a lot of research on disconfirming stereotypes in terms of race, age, and nationality, and if this system works on diversification in all these areas, it stands to reason that it would also work on the idea of women being as good as men in the context of management. Eagly and Carli (2018) ascertain that having female managers would change the stereotypes within the male-dominated corporate system and pave the way for more women to be considered for managerial positions as it would prove that women are weak for management is illogical and sexist.

Sex-Typing of Jobs

Another gender issue perpetuates the ideology that “women are too weak for management” is the sex-typing of management jobs. Coder and Spiller (2013) point out that there is a bias that leadership roles are more of a men’s job, which indicates that women cannot be good at it. This mentality is still predominant despite corporations edging towards gender equality within their organizations. This determination of excellence in managerial roles based on gender is detrimental to the assignment of women to managerial roles since the expectation of one’s success in a particular role is a determinant of the personnel decisions made within an organization. Despite the corporate system having a record high of female employees, many of the people who are in management positions remain to be male. The idea that managerial positions are male-oriented stands to blame for this reality.

Women in management positions have busted this myth that management is a man’s job within the male-dominated corporate system. A report by Hunt, Layton, and Prince (2015) indicates that having more women in senior positions within a senior executive team corresponds with high performance within organizations in the United Kingdom. When women are promoted to managerial positions, they come in with a different outlook, a diverse skill set, and a structural difference that brings about solutions and better problem solving (Barragan, Paludi, and Mills, 2017). However, these women often have a hard time in these roles as they find it hard to create a supportive network in a male-dominated workspace. Many men in managerial positions may underestimate their abilities to do their job successfully due to their “women are too weak for management” bias. Additionally, their egos take a hit if they are outperformed by women in this job which is purported to be a man’s job, and this makes it hard for them to support women in the management role.

Despite this idea that management is a man’s job, women tend to perform well in these positions. Women tend to be more transformational than men as they portray more of a contingent reward behavior as opposed to the two-dimensional active and passive management that men tend to demonstrate (Eagly, Makhijani, and Klonsky, 1992). Additionally, some of the feminine traits that a male-dominated corporate system considers disadvantageous in a manager can be more of an advantage. Women are more passionate and enthusiastic, and they have a take-charge attitude which allows them to make bold and wise decisions in leadership (Syed and Murray, 2008). They tend to make the work environment more corporative rather than authoritative, which is essential to building teamwork in the organization, and this helps build a better work culture in the workplace. Thereby, the idea that management positions are a man’s job is just another bias within the male management of a male-dominated corporate system which accelerates the idea that women are too weak for management (Coder and Spiller, 2013). The truth is that women have the capability to take up the management role as well as or arguably better than men do.

Emotional Labour

Another gender issue that leads to the idea that women are too weak for management is the idea that women are more sensitive; thus, they are not good at managing their feelings, and they tend to have publicly observable facial and bodily displays of emotion. In a male-dominated corporate system, this is considered a weakness for a manager. Ghalandari et al. (2012) point out that in the context of a work environment, emotional labor means that an individual in the workplace should manipulate their emotions or their displays of emotion in order to satisfy a job requirement. Individuals are also expected to control their feelings so they cannot make their colleagues or a client uncomfortable (Morris and Feldman, 1997). Since women tend to be more emotional than men, the male-dominated corporate system perceives that this is why women are too weak for management positions.

Even though being overly emotional in a business environment can be problematic in the sense that it prevents objectiveness, can screw up negotiations, and result in rash decisions, being emotional can be positive in a leader. Emotions are a driving force of the qualities of a good leader. These qualities include building trust among employees, strengthening teamwork, making tradeoffs, focusing energy on important issues, making tough decisions, and learning from mistakes (Humphrey, Pollack, and Hawver, 2008). Sometimes men do not show emotion because they are unaware they are feeling it, which can build up to a catastrophic ending. Women are better at recognizing emotions, allowing them to act on them for the betterment of everyone around them. Brotheridge and Lee (2008) point out that even though logic is vital in business, being emotional is the foundation of change and growth. Therefore, showing emotion in this context can be advantageous going to prove that women can perform well as managers.

With emotion being advantageous in the workplace, a double standard exists where men’s emotions are taken more seriously than women’s. In a male-dominated corporate system, women are considered hysterical hence when they show emotion, this is considered an overreaction, but when men show emotion, this is considered out of the norm, and their concerns are taken more seriously (Smith, Brescoli, and Thomas, 2016). This happens to the detriment of the company since when emotions are needed in a situation, the emotion of a woman present, who is supposedly more emotionally conscious, is dismissed. This double standard faces many women in managerial positions, and it makes it hard for them to put their point across in the moments that matter. Therefore, the emotional labor excuse is a way that male management in a male-dominated corporate system uses to keep women out of managerial positions.

Glass Ceiling

The idea of male management in a male-dominated corporate system has that women are too weak for management and build a glass ceiling for women to get into management positions. According to Smith, Crittenden, and Caputi (2012), despite the rise in the number of women in the workplace and the creation of legal policies that help even the playing field for women to compete with men, women remain underrepresented in management positions within many organizations. Many women who can rise above this glass ceiling are viewed in terms of their gender. They are not seen as leaders, they are seen as “women” leaders, and this means that their abilities are often underestimated. There is a prevalent expectation that they will fail in their job, and this plays a role in their lack of promotion into higher positions in the managerial hierarchy (Afza and Newaz, 2008). Their performance is also representative of all women, so their performance can support or disconfirm the stereotype.

This generalization of a female leader’s performance by the male-dominated management means that a well-performing female leader can pave the way for more women to be promoted to managerial positions since the organization can see the advantage of having female leaders. However, this is a double-edged sword. Afza and Newaz (2008) affirm that when an organization has a female leader who performs poorly, the organization is less likely to promote women into management positions. The woman’s performance is viewed as a precedent for the performance of all women in the position. Ezzedeen, Budworth, and Baker (2015) point out that this mentality is a double standard as men are not held in the same regard. Men in management positions are judged as individuals, and their performance does not reflect the performance of future leaders. This double standard strengthens the idea that women are too weak for management even though the generalization does not affect men.

Women, like men, will not always be successful in management. Even though it is not possible to prevent some women from performing poorly, it is possible to get ahead of the generalization of female leaders that plagues the male-dominated corporate system. Sahoo and Lenka (2016) mention that one way to do this is to get more women into high-level management positions to the point that they are no longer a minority in these positions. This way, they will no longer be viewed as female leaders but leaders. Their success and failures will be judged individually, and their performance will not affect the promotion of fellow women. This may take time, but it is achievable. The generalization of female performance and the double standard goes to show that male-dominated management is prejudiced against women as they do not judge female leadership as they do men (Johns, 2013). Having more female managers will counteract this prejudice and encourage the promotion of more women.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment involves unwanted physical actions, suggestive remarks, or innuendos associated with sex. With more women entering the workforce, cases of sexual harassment have increased dramatically. According to Folke et al. (2020), women in management are at a higher risk of being sexually harassed than female subordinates. The risk of sexual harassment is larger in lower- and mid-level management, where the subordinates are mostly male. This goes to show that male subordinates do not respect their managers as leaders because they are female. This can be attributed to the attitude and mentality that women are too weak for management. The increase in the number of women in management positions has created a paradox where instead of the number of sexual harassment cases decreasing, they are on the rise (McLaughlin, Uggen, and Blackstone, 2012). Rhode (2007) ascertains that this prevalence of sexual harassment among women in management discourages women from being managers since,, their grievances are not taken with the gravitas they deserve in a male-dominated corporate system.

Cases of sexual harassment among managers are common since the men they work with a view them as weak and unable to defend themselves. Tinkler and Zhao (2020) point out that the harassment of women in management is increasing and when they report it it results in negative professional and social consequences for the sexually harassed women. The prevalence of sexual harassment among management can be attributed to the fact that they are harassed by subordinates and high-ranking individuals within the corporate system (Folke et al., 2020). The idea that women are weak for management makes male management view female managers as easy prey, and the since the consequences of this act mainly affect the women, the men’s behavior is not punished nor discouraged.


The idea that women are too weak for management is a misconception held by male management in a male-dominated corporate system. The idea is perpetrated primarily by gender stereotypes whereby the stereotypical female traits are considered disadvantageous for management positions. Many individuals in this corporate system have a bias where they consider managerial traits masculine. The sex-typing of management positions further drives these stereotypes. Male management has a prejudice where they think that management positions are a man’s job. However, women in management are doing well, with organizations having gender diversity in executive positions recording higher productivity. The stereotype that women are too weak for management is further driven by emotional labor. Women are more prone to displaying their emotions physically, and the male-dominated corporate system considers this a weakness in management. However, this is a misconception since research shows that showing emotion in a situation can be an advantage.

All these factors have created a glass ceiling in management positions for women. The glass ceiling is worsened by the fact that one woman’s performance in a management position is an indicator of the future performance of all women who could occupy the position. Additionally, the idea that women are too weak for management has contributed to the prevalence of sexual harassment of women in managerial positions. The idea of weakness held by the male-dominated corporate system makes male subordinates, and high-ranking individuals within an organization view female managers as prey. This has resulted in female managers being at more risk of sexual harassment than female subordinates. All this goes to show that male management is biased against women in management, and this bias is based only on a misconception.


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