Do We Need to Continue to Focus on Women's Leadership Development


I am challenging myself today, with my research and writing. I am sitting here feeling a profound sensation in my chest; it is soul deep. I have been working on a research project that focuses on transformational learning and women's leadership development. When I wrote the book, Invisible Roots, it was a call for women to become visible in their leadership. I thought I had done my part by writing the book. Here is the section that is challenging me…


It was a conscious choice to focus on women's leadership development in my current research not only because I am a woman, but because of a concern related to the lack of women visible in leadership. As a professional businesswoman and scholar whose primary focus is leadership development, I have developed, trained, coached, and supported leadership development over the years. So, focusing on women's leadership development in my current research is a good fit. As a leadership development expert, I believe that it is the role of facilitators and coaches to empower the people we are guiding. According to Walters and Maincom (1996), if we want to empower women, we must challenge two pillars of patriarchal ideology and practice. When writing about women in South Africa, Walters and Manicom (1996), shared that if women want to move away from patriarchy, that they need to "attain real power as part of a process of economic, political and cultural transformation. In other words, women must gain access to and participate in decision-making structures at all levels in society" (p. 24).


I started to question, does this apply to us, right now? While living in the United States, a country where women have rights and freedoms, one may argue that this is not a concern that is pressing for our generation of women. However, looking into the economic realm, Fortune 500 companies still only have 7.4% of women filling the CEO role (Catalyst, 2020; Ebrahimji, 2020). Also concerning, in light of antiracism is there are only three black women represented in that number, and no Latinas hold any CEO roles (Ebrahimji, 2020). Within the political realm, According to the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University in 2020, 127 women hold seats in the United States Congress, which represents 23.7%. Of them, 26 women (26%) serve in the U.S. Senate, and 101 women (23.2%) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of the 127 women, 47 are women of color.

What are your thoughts?

References in case you want to read more…

Walters, S. (1996). Training gender-sensitive adult educators in South Africa. In Walters, S., Manicom, L., & University of the Western Cape, B. (South A. C. for A. and C. E.). Gender in popular education. Methods for empowerment. (pp. 23-39). South Africa: CACE Publications

Women in the U.S. Congress 2020. (2020) Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University. Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2020

Ebrahimji, A. (2020, May 20). Female Fortune 500 CEOs reach an all-time high, but it's still a small percentage. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/20/us/fortune-500-women-ceos-trnd/index.html

Catalyst. (2020, June 15). Women CEOs of the S&P 500. Catalyst. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-ceos-of-the-sp-500/