A Gender Perspective on Leadership Roles

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Monday, May 13, 2019
Rector of Vienna University of Economics and Business, Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, shares her thoughts on the perceptions of leadership roles and how that impacts individuals who are taking these leadership roles, no matter their gender.


Edeltraud Hanappi Egger: [0:05] If men or women should be prepared differently for leadership roles depends very much on the understanding of the leadership role. If you have a masculine understanding of a leadership role, then it is much harder for women to adapt to those expectations because they are facing what we call double binding.

[0:43] Being a woman in a non traditional position, like in a leadership role, would mean that they are perceived as being different. If they would try to adopt the same leadership style as the male colleagues, then they would be perceived as being not feminine anymore. This is a very hard contradiction to be breached by women.

[1:09] The solution would not be the question, "Should they adapt, or should they be prepared differently to leadership role?" It's more about questioning what it means to be a leader and what it means to be an inclusive leader in terms of being competent, dealing with diversity, and having a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

[1:36] Did I face obstacles? I wouldn't say I faced explicit obstacles, but there were these small, everyday experiences showing me that it's not so typical for a female to go my way. These indirect obstacles, these implicit obstacles, or invisible obstacles make it harder to be addressed.

[2:00] Sometimes people are not aware that they are thinking the way they do. This unconscious bias, for instance, is a severe issue. This can only be tackled by inviting people to take some trainings and becoming aware of stereotyping and these kind of things.

[2:21] Research in gender and diversity issues will be still part of research because it will be a topic. We are facing more and more rather populist discussion on nationalities, on migration, on gender issues, and the like. It is really important that business schools and universities are contributing to a more evidence based discussion by delivering research results on the issues of diversity and inclusion.


Filmed February 2019 at AACSB's Deans Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

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