Angry Women

There are still many women managers who feel it is necessary to adopt male characteristics to be successful not showing emotion, always having to show that they know the answer, not being able, to admit to mistakes - but, at the same time, there is a definite move towards individuals making their own choices about how they behave at work.

Clearly, it cannot be ignored that successful women have to compete in a male- dominated culture. 'The ability to progress and have influence is about accepting that it is a male culture, but also about adopting personal strategies which enable you to work within it. These include empathizing with the senior men whilst demonstrating that your female perspectives and skills will enable you to help solve their problems'. Yet, as one manager says, 'There is a sense that even men find it tough living inside a culture that does not recognize the human element of the importance of trust, relationships, etc to get things done. I believe women have an enormous opportunity to influence and bring their perspectives to bear if they choose. The question is whether sufficient women wish to take on the challenge of leadership rather than remain followers'.

Challenge of Relationships

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The approach adopted by many women - but not accepted by all - is to fit in with the present culture until they have been accepted and then, once they have made it, begin to break the stereotypes and challenge the system's foundations and values. I think that often one has to work within a particular culture in order to gain credibility before asserting something different. However, I don't think this means taking on male characteristics.'

Women's role in management

There is an optimistic note creeping into discussions about women's role in management. 'Gradually, senior managers are realizing that they need a balance at the top in order to retain that balance throughout the company. They need the hard-edged males" who concentrate on results plus the people-oriented "females" to ensure the successful management of people.' With the growing acceptance that male and female traits are found in both men and women, many organizations are demonstrating that the integration of a variety of styles does not involve relinquishing important differences.

The ideal outcome is for women to retain their femaleness, despite the difficulties. This also presents problems for the men and an interesting and salient point is made by one manager: We must recognize the torment this can pose to men. It's easy to accept a single, lesbian, childless woman as a freak. It's far harder to accept an overtly heterosexual, feminine woman - complete with partner and children - because this suggests to men that their wives and girlfriends could do the same. It makes them feel very vulnerable'.

Call +44 (0)7516 391 430 for more information on joining our network looks at the role women play in business in 2016 and by focusing on the past seeks to improve the prospects for all UK women in the work force. We offer women a chance to join a non profit making group of similar women to give advice and career support.