Posted by: mattbush5895 | January 24, 2019

Challenges for Women in Leadership

While trying to decide what to write about for this post I did a preliminary Google search titled “women in leadership.” The first article to pop up was an article in Forbes titled “15 Biggest Challenges Women Leaders Face and How to Overcome Them.” A panel of fifteen women on the Forbes Coaches Council then laid out the challenges that many of their female clients are facing. While reading this list all I could think about was the concept of the double bind and how women are almost in an impossible position to overcome it.

Challenge number five on the list is “speaking up.” The way the woman describing how to overcome it said, “Women leaders fear being ostracized and rejected; however, respect comes when ones voice is heard.” If this is not straight double bind then I do not know what is. Like we discussed in class and like the reading that we had for Tuesday when women do this they can be labeled as bitchy or pushy. However, when women do not do this they can be labeled, like Sarah Palin, as a ditz or airhead.

This double bind is an extremely difficult issue for women in the workplace and women leaders. It lends no help on how to overcome it and makes it sound impossible for women leaders to ever be successful. This is obviously not true as there have been many successful women leaders however what did they have to do to achieve their success? Did they have to pander to men? Did they have to disregard their own values just to be accepted? It is of my opinion that this is not acceptable. Leadership is a spectrum but it comes down to whether or not one is a good leader. Sex, gender, race and other physical characteristics should not interfere with someones ability to lead.

Although the double bind is a difficult issue to overcome, I believe that there will be a day, there has to be a day, where it will be resolved. Without it being resolved humanity will may miss out on life altering ideas or life changing leaders. I encourage everyone to read the rest of issues that are in this article and I would like to know everyone’s thoughts on how women can overcome this obstacle.


  1. I definitely agree that the issue of the double bind is not acceptable and that leadership should not be based on anything else other than leadership skills and abilities. It is very unfortunate that women have to deal with this double bind in leadership. As far as overcoming it, I don’t think there is one right answer, like what we were discussing in class today. It is all context based, in addition to what their followers need and playing to that. I also feel like some of the challenges mentioned in the article are because of the personalities of a lot of women and the fact that they are typically very giving to others and not thinking of themselves, which is why it can be harder for women to do things like ask for money, generate revenue, and be confident.

  2. Throughout most of the article, the things they tell women are challenges and the way they tell them to overcome them can all be seen as a double bind. It is hard to overcome so I think it is best to try to ignore it as best as we can until we no longer think about it as an issue. Is it difficult to ignore? Absolutely. But we also cannot be consumed by it and its effects. Most of the time when we do see a successful woman leader, we think she’s awesome and are so happy to have such good representation of a woman being successful. But then there will always be the critics who will point out small flaws and make everyone focus on them. To many people, women will never be good enough and that is where the double bind becomes even trickier because no one can please everyone. We can try our hardest to be likable and competent and beautiful and strong, but we cannot be everything at once and people need to be more accepting of that. Women should only rise to the expectations they put on themselves, not anyone else. Our limitations should only be set by ourselves, not someone telling us we should be more masculine or more feminine.

  3. I agree with everything you mentioned in your discussion regarding this article. After looking through the article, there was one challenge that resonated with me more than the others. The second one, which focused on building a sisterhood, explained that ‘the biggest challenge female clients face today is garnering support from other women, and gave the advice to support and empower each other, starting with our basic principles of who we are — our morals, values, integrity.’ As a member of a sorority on CNU’s campus, it is so easy to just hear the words ‘build a sisterhood’ and kind of shrug it off. However, the exact principle on which many sororities were founded is on the idea of empowering women to empower each other. In many instances, the challenge is that we do not want to always support females because we are jealous or insecure; however, by showing this support and empowerment to the women around us, even in situations where we are competing with other women, we are able to begin to help eliminate some of the many challenges that are constantly being faced by women.

  4. I really liked your discussion of the article here! I would definitely say that the double bind exists, though I haven’t seen a lot of examples of it in real life. Most of the jobs that I have had have been in primarily male dominated fields, so I haven’t had a lot of examples of female bosses/superior employees being torn between the two sides of the double bind. However, maybe that in itself is an example of the double bind! I have definitely had female coworkers that are right around the same level as me struggle to rise up within the company, and maybe that is a result of not being agentic enough or not seeming nurturing enough: aka the double bind.

  5. I appreciated reading your post coming from a different point of view other than women analyzing women. I agree that this issue of the double bind for women is something that can be seen as almost impossible to overcome. I think a big step that could be taken is having meetings in the workplace on this issue itself. It’s something can be uncomfortable to talk about in a group of men and women who work together but awareness that this is an issue can help open the eyes of those who are unconsciously supporting the double bind. If there were meetings once or twice a year addressing the awareness that this is a real issue that exists and allowing people to share experiences in that specific workplace could be a way to take on the problem straight on. I truly believe that due to the gender stereotypes that our culture raises us to believe can cause people to treat different genders differently without trying to. Not to say that all men should be given a pass for belittling women in the workplace, but not all men realize that they even do this. I think blog posts such as this is a great way to show awareness and help strive to exterminate the issue with the double bind for women in the workplace.

  6. I really enjoyed reading your post! I don’t have any solutions on how to overcome the double bind because, as many others have said, there is no easy solution. I did find it really fascinating though reading through the Forbes article. Reading through the list of challenges, number four, being confident, is the one that really stood out to me. To me, a lot of the under challenges listed fit under the category of being confident. You wrote in more detail about speaking up and to me, that reminds me a lot of being confident and the article even refers to women needing to “speak confidently”. Going down the list asking for money, standing in their success, tackling imposter syndrome, trusting their own voice, re-entering the paid workforce along with the others fitting in the idea of being confident. I personally think with more women in leadership other women would be more confident in their leadership roles but the women currently in leadership roles face the double bind.

  7. I really liked how you did a preliminary search about women’s leadership and took the time to research more background since you have a separate perspective on leadership based on gender. The double bind is a huge issue for women in leadership today and in the past, and will likely continue to be an issue if people are not educated on it and do not work to resolve it. Personally, I feel as though many successful women have had to change at least some aspect of their personality or leadership style in order to be best accepted in their workplace or environment, and it disappoints me that this has to happen for countless women so that they can succeed, especially in male dominated fields. From the article, I feel as though some of the biggest issues that women, especially in the US, face today are pursuits of perfectionism and equal treatment. Oftentimes, women are put down if they do a job as well as a man, where many believe that if a woman could do something, it has to be easy. This mindset leads to worries that women have to always be doing 110% of the work and putting in too much effort while others simply coast by. Equal treatment in the workplace is also a huge issue that is a catalyst behind the double bind – women have to work even harder to be treated like people from male-dominated workplaces, and even when they can be acknowledged, women can still be judged harshly for their personality or work ethic.

  8. I also was struck by the article we read that gave Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin as examples of the two ends of the spectrum in the double bind. I think that illustration really made the double bind real to me because I could actually see how women are put between a rock and a hard place. Everyone wants leaders to be both competent and likable, but women struggle to be perceived as both of these things simultaneously because they are so harshly scrutinized on how they execute these traits. I think part of that is because women are still relatively new in the leadership discussion, so my hope, like yours, is that this will change as time goes on and women in leadership is more normalized. Something that the reading for this week also brought to my attention is that the study of leadership itself is a fairly new concept, and as more studies are being done, “women’s leadership” approaches (such as collaborative, participative, transformational, reward-driven, and/or relationship-oriented aspects) are becoming increasingly desirable. Leadership theory has developed from the traditional idea of a “Great Man” to the more modern concept that leadership is an interactive process that includes the leaders as well as the followers and the situation/context (how can we forget LDSP 210). This concept places more value on ethics, follower consideration, and team efforts because there is less of an individualistic focus on the leader alone. These values, then, reflect more closely traditional women’s values than they do men’s. I think that as this theory of leadership continues to develop and become common practice, women will be more readily accepted as leaders because they are so well suited to enact these type of leadership strategies.

  9. “Speaking up” is a very big issue that I, along with many other women, have encountered. For me personally, not speaking up resides in not feeling confident in my competence on a certain issue – if I don’t feel fully capable to answer questions about the topic, then I don’t want to insert myself into the conversation. I would imagine that this is something a lot of other women feel as well. However, it is not enough that women have a seat at the table in order for change to occur – women need to have a voice at the table. Women need to feel more confident inserting their opinion, asking questions, and challenging the solutions of others. This kind of dialogue generally enables bad solutions to be weeded out and for a comprehensive, diverse solution to be reached among the group.

    Though many women may feel the double bind in these situations, it is important to not let that double bind restrict you from speaking up and inserting your voice in the conversation. For me personally, the most important skill I’ve used to help get past the double bind is developing relationships with mentors to seek there advice on their own professional development – from both men and women. When I can hear other’s experiences, it makes the whole process feel more human to me. I can hear of their struggles, times that they spoke up, times that they empowered others to do the same, and apply it to my own life.

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