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Women best at leadership: what studies say, the glass ceiling and how to shatter it

Women best at leadership: what studies say, the glass ceiling and how to shatter it

A study by Harvard Business Review found that countries that had managed to keep the number of coronavirus cases and deaths low had leaders who were women.

Head of 1st for Women Insurance Seugnette van Wyngaard said, “We’re all familiar with the term ‘glass ceiling’ and are constantly being encouraged to shatter it.”

According to Van Wyngaard, a lesser known term is “glass cliff” which refers to the phenomenon of women being more likely than men to be promoted to leadership roles during periods of crisis or downturn, when the chance of failure is highest.

The theory is that women possess certain traits that make them better able to navigate through tough times. They’re seen as more empathetic, more flexible, better team players, stronger communicators, and with higher EQ (emotional quotient).

“If this is the case, then why do women make up only 33.1 percent of managerial positions in South Africa,” asked Van Wyngaard.

Siegie Brownlee executive director of Eduvos, an independent private higher education institution, said that while some women were born to be leaders, the necessary skills could be learnt.

“But, according to a study conducted in the UK by the New Street Consulting Group, women have identified that they feel less supported by their organisations than men in developing their leadership skills,” Brownlee said.

According to the New Street Consulting study, the top three barriers women experience in developing leadership skills were lack of time (55 percent), lack of budget (37 percent) and being unsure where to start (35 percent).

Van Wyngaard shares the following advice for women: “Women have all the qualities needed to reach the top. All that was left to do was change their narrative from one of fear, to one of fearlessness. Being fearless was a decision and an action. It did not mean living a life devoid of fear, but living a life in which one’s fears did not hold one back. It’s about controlling that voice in your head that says you’re not enough. Because you are – enough.”


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