Posted by: ginnychisum | January 24, 2018

Feminism 2.0

After completing today’s reading for class, specifically the Leadership, Authority, and Women article, I started thinking about the roles of feminist in today’s society. First off, I thought it was very interesting how the article suggested there were two forms of feminism, one that fights for the dismissal of any and all differences between men and women and the second which says that these differences should be appreciated and nourished. I had never thought of the idea of these two types of feminism and while I like the idea of it, I feel that it makes the issue of women in leadership positions even trickier.

In her blog post, Brittany talked about how she used her differences as a female leader to her advantage when the “typical” male approach of being direct and dominant didn’t work in the situation. However, some women may say that they tend to lead better when these differences are diminished and they lead in a more traditionally male manner. So, my question is how do you know which is the better solution or is it solely trial and error and based on the situation at hand?

When I’ve held leadership positions in the past, I traditionally end up being quiet and more of a silent leader. When I do speak up and voice opinions and ideas, I tend to do so in a respectful manner, asking others for feedback. I find that by using the differences between my way of leading and my male counterpart, I can bring the group back together after an argument and make sure the group feels heard. To my knowledge, I can’t think of a leadership position I’ve held where I’ve tried to diminish all sense of difference between myself and male leaders. What do you all think about this? How do you tend to lead? Do you think there’s a better way other than trial and error?






  1. Hi Ginny! I think the point you mentioned about feminism is an interesting one, and it was certainly one that stuck out to me while I was reading the Heifetz article. Personally, I have always been able to rectify the two: to appreciate the differences between men and women and offering the same opportunities to succeed. I think this sort of understanding of feminism gives some weight to women in leadership positions. Acknowledging that (despite the meta-statistics) there are some differences between how men and women lead. As for trial and error, I think that’s the only way to really know for sure. I think people have natural tendencies to lean toward a directive or collaborative leadership styles, but that it’s best to scope out the situation before you jump into leading a group of people. That way, you have some understanding of the existing dynamic before you intervene. I have a pretty directive leadership style, and in my current leadership position I have needed it to be successful. I had a turbulent rise to power if you will, but now that I’ve been accepted by the group I am emphasizing collaborative aspects. Thank you for your post!

  2. I think in terms of finding the most effective leadership style, I think flexibility is really important. Every leadership situation is different and may require a different approach. In addition, the make-up of the group may play an important role. I also think a female leader, who may often be overlooked can use flexibility to her advantage. A changing of style may surprise the others involved and grant the female leader more power. She could use both differences and similarities to get a point across. If a female leader finds herself in a boardroom with 7 other men, her communal style may stand out and cause the others in the room to pause. At the same time, this style may result in her being completely overlooked, especially if everyone involved is stressed or tense. In terms of determining how to lead, I think trial and error definitely plays a role, especially in determining individual style. However, I think that getting to know the people you are working with or leading can allow you to determine the best strategy for leading the group of individuals.

  3. One of the main points I have taken from all of my leadership classes at CNU is that effective leadership styles change in every situation. You mentioned that you tend to be a quiet leader, and that you thrive on being different than your male leaders. I think you provided a perfect example of a situation where your more reserved leadership style paired perfectly with your more dominant male counterpart.

    I wish I knew of a better way to lead than by trial-and-error. Ironically, despite all the textbooks we have read on leadership, I think experience is the best teacher, and situations are never exactly what you read in a textbook. The only way to truly discover the best leadership style is through trial-and-error. However, our textbooks and past experiences can guide us in the right direction (so perhaps we experience fewer errors). In the end, our combined book knowledge and past experiences can help make us better future leaders!

  4. Hi there! I too was intrigued by the point about feminism made in the Heifetz article. Though I have typically had success in using my “feminine” leadership qualities, like I mentioned in my initial blog post, there are definitely times in which I would have benefitted from the possession of more typically “masculine” leadership qualities. We are taught, in the classroom and from experience, that leadership is dependent on context. Therefore, some instances might call for “feminine” leaders and others might call for “masculine” leaders. Because of this, I think it is important to appreciate and celebrate the differences between men and women.

    To answer your question about how to know what leadership styles to display when – I think it’s important to identify your followers and how similar situations have played out in the past. In my experience, leadership is dependent on context. However, trial and error should be reserved for unfamiliar situations. Use patterns and teachings on leadership to help you determine which leadership style is most appropriate for the situation at hand!

    In my opinion, all leadership styles, both “masculine” and “feminine” are equally as important. Context should determine which traits you choose to display and when.

    • These are great points! I don’t know if I would say I’ve adjusted my leadership style through trial and error but rather I learned from experience. The difference between the two for me is that I would not say that I have ever explicitly tried to alter my leadership style in different situations. Trial and error to me is when you try something new, evaluate its effectiveness after implementation, tweak your approach in a way you think will work better for you next time, and then perform the task again. I don’t know how often other people actively plan to test out different styles of leadership, but for myself, the more I perform leadership the more I naturally gain more of a handle on how to relate to different groups depending on the situation. This for me is more of a passive type of learning which is why I would say I learn from experience rather than by trial and error.

  5. I think that the style of leadership chosen depends on the situation. Like all the contemporary theory models of leadership, the context and followers are the most crucial elements to leading. One has to take in account the different “scripts” the followers live by and believe in. In the same manner, what the situation is is a great factor in what they do. For example, in a war place, a soft spoken leader may not work best because they need to be able to be loud and brazen, but the leader should still be communal and supportive.

    To figure out the right leadership strategies, the leader should get to know not only the situation, but each of their followers individually. With this knowledge and doing research on the proper way to lead for those followers, the leadership style can be chosen to be most efficient for that shared goal. It is this reason why there are dozens of leadership models and theories- each one takes in account a different follower combination and situation to create maximum efficiency. With this rough framework to lead upon, the leader can then do a trial and error approach to see what works best and what is most comfortable for them. This could lead to their style being heavily leaning towards characteristics one gender, but it could and usually does, lead to a style of leadership that incorporates both masculine and feminine traits.

  6. I also find the idea of having two different definitions of feminism very interesting. I think they are both right to an extent, bu the more accurate one (in my opinion) would be the latter one – that we should embrace our gender differences. I believe this because genders are known to be biologically different. I do agree that a lot of today’s gender differences root from the societal expectations and the need for people to fit these expectations, but there is a definite baseline that started these differences that is biological and undeniable. To answer your question, I do not believe that one style (between man and women) is the “better,” “more effective” form of leadership. I think leadership is a very complex idea that cannot use just one definition, or one strategy, or just one “Great Man” to transcend all forms of leadership. It all depends on the situation, and no situation will ever be the same; therefore, we need different leaders to step forward everyday (each with their own styles and techniques) to handle these new conflicts.
    I think that feminism really reminds me of this lesson I learned in middle school about the Civil Rights movement. There were two major leaders: Booker T. Washington and WEB Du Bois, who had two very different opinions on how to gain respect for black people during this time. One was that we should require a certain amount of African Americans in big leadership positions so that white subordinates would gain respect for them. The other was that blacks should earn their way to the top, and that is how they will gain the respect. This “merit versus power” fight is very applicable to women. I believe that the best way to get women’s leadership style to the top is embracing our differences and getting to the top by earning it, not by being put there. Once enough women earn the top, while staying true to their “feminism” qualities, then people will start recognizing that form of leadership as positive and effective.

  7. I am the same way in that I am very quiet and more of a silent leader. However, if a situation arises and there is no type of leadership being shown then I at times will step up and gear the situation and group to complete task or a goal. I believe that leaders need to be observant and know their audience/followers and the situation well. Just as many speakers in any field, they have to know their audience to be able to gauge interest and speak to their level of knowledge.

    Considering the double bind, women often find themselves stuck with being “too masculine” or “too feminine.” However, maybe this double bind wouldn’t exist as much if we educated both women and men in reading a situation and reading their followers. One of our previous readings mentioned this idea to educate everyone about leadership and how to gauge the situation and know what type of leadership to present. Leaders cannot be rigid in their ways of leading otherwise their followers will be rigid in their reactions to that leadership style.

    In regards to feminism, I have to be honest in that this term and ideal has always been confusing to me. People believe in the term and then there are two types of feminism, as you mentioned above. Opposing that, you have the group of people who don’t believe in the word itself and just its ideals and that we shouldn’t or don’t “need” to put a label on it or just don’t believe in it at all. I feel that we have this natural tendency to define and locate these differences between genders especially with our innateness “to gender” people and objects subconsciously throughout our life. Once we realize and make the effort to understand why and when we do that then maybe we can appreciate the differences between both genders and then understand that with these differences, there is no one gender that is better than the other. We’ve mentioned in the readings previously about this concept of uniting both genders and educating both in order to find that balance.

  8. I think the points that you brought up are very interesting! I myself think that I have always tended to appreciate the differences between men and women. I think that this in turn enhances my leadership style depending on the situation I am in. As I commented on a post last week, I tend to lead with a calming nature hearing the voices of all those around me. However, depending on the situation I am in I have also had multiple circumstances where I had to be more demanding and assertive with what I expected of those working with me. I think recognizing the differences between how people lead is very important in making sure we do not box people into a personality we assume they have.

  9. I think leadership styles should depend on the situation. As an athlete, I have had various formal and informal leadership positions within my sports teams. I have experienced that in settings like this, it is better to have a collaborative leadership style, AKA one that is more “feminine”. It is important that each athlete feels heard and involved with the team. In sports it is easy for members to get frustrated, so to combat this, leaders must include everyone’s opinions and try their best to address everyone’s concerns.
    On the other hand, I am also a member of an academic fraternity here at CNU. I had a formal leadership position within the fraternity last semester. The dynamic of a fraternity is completely different from the dynamic of a sports team. The fraternity is also significantly larger than my cheerleading team, so it is much more difficult to weigh in everyone’s thoughts and ideas. I found that while I had that position, what worked best for me was to be more directive and make decisions on my own, which is traditionally thought of as a more “masculine” style of leadership. When I attempted to involve others, there was a lot of interrupting going on, no one could agree on things, and it was just a very hostile, aggressive environment. I decided to stop giving the brothers so much power because they were not able to distribute it amongst each other well.
    As a leader, it is important to determine which style of leadership to enact. Sometimes one has to ignore the expectations others have of them solely due to their gender and utilize the leadership style that better fits that situation.

  10. Great post! I think women and men are different in their leadership styles, but they don’t have to be. I am a male who tends to be more relational in my leadership roles. I enjoy getting to know people on a personal level, not just on a workplace, superficial level. However, I want to be more assertive and task-oriented. I believe people should lead in whatever way is most natural to them, while improving on areas that are more difficult. I believe you can lead successfully using a feminine-like approach, and you can be proud of it. Relational and task focused leadership styles are both very effective, and neither should be looked down upon.

  11. As I’ve never taken a leadership class before, I’ve found the topic of leadership fascinating, yet confusing. Sometimes I’ve wondered what are the qualities a leader needs to possess in order to become a “true” leader. In some of the readings we’ve had, leadership is based on power and influence. While power and influence can go hand-in-hand, some leaders have immense power but hardly any great influence. At the same time, someone can be incredibly influential without holding any specific powerful role. I truly appreciate your ability to be comfortable as more of a “silent type,” because we are all different types of people. Why should we expect to lead the same?

  12. I think this post brings up an excellent point about the issue of feminism. Personally, I have always found it to be true that there is a certain shame with defining oneself as a “feminist” as a female, because for one, females are supposed to be submissive and expressing empowerment is often considered to be “unattractive,” and two, because critics find it to be contradictory. Often times critics of feminism will express how it is hypocritical to want to be considered equal with men, yet still differentiate yourself in the way you act.

    I think we as a society would be better off banishing this way of thinking, that in order to be equal you must be exactly the same. We do not have to be unrealistic to ensure equality of opportunities. The truth is, there are generalized differences that can be recognized as patterns between males and females, and this is because it is how society has molded us. It is up to each individual to be able to express themselves as male, female, or neither however they desire, and we should not hold each person to these constructs, and conversely should not try to uphold the fallacy that if someone does identify themselves as “feminine” or “masculine” due to upholding society’s created gender constructs, that that is incorrect either, and prevents us from offering equality of opportunity in leadership positions and in societal status. Gender is up to the individual to define for themselves, and we do not have to have a strict definition for what that should look like in order to feel empowered as females and ensure that we as a society are moving towards equality.

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