Women Hold up Half the Sky

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Chinese proverb says “women hold up half the sky” but women are still far from holding half of the leadership positions. There is still a huge gender gap when it comes to leadership. Only 6 percent of Fortune 100 CEOs and 15% of senior management in all industries are women. Women of color held 3.2% of board seats according to Fortune 500 Women Board Directors list. The number of women in the work force and in leadership roles increases, yet there is a need for further diversity in management positions.

Published in 2007, “Women and Leadership Transforming Visions and Diverse Voices” seeks to define “feminist leadership”. Beside pointing out challenges faced by women to get and sustain a leadership position, it also addresses the leadership styles of a diverse group of women leaders and gives some answers on how women can lead to promote diverse voices.

Feminist leadership is a value-based leadership style: being inclusive, participative, democratic and collaborative is key and it promotes shared leadership and responsibility. Feminist leaders advocate for child care, family obligations and employee benefits.

The book gives voice to Asian American, African American, Latina, American Indian, lesbian and handicapped women. There are some cross-cutting issues for all women such as sexism, racism, discrimination, and stereotyping. Yet, social expectations, priorities and needs for each women community are not the same. Therefore, the book suggests that feminist agenda and movement should be more sensible about including diverse voices. Women need to provide support and mentor excluded women and more effective diversity trainings and programs should be implemented.

by Derya Kaya

Women and Leadership Transforming Visions and Diverse Voices
Edited by Jean Lau Chin, Bernice Lott, Joy K. Rice, and Janis Sanchez-Hucles
ISBN: 978-1-4051-5582-3