Empowered Women Empower Women

During the last two weeks of my internship with AlphaSights, I noticed the company population tends to be about 60 percent female and 40 percent male. My department, Client Protection, has about 25 team members worldwide and only three are men. Given the company appears to be predominantly women, I started to recognize AlphaSights’ decision to employ more women than men might not be a coincidence. In fact, my manager mentioned the company’s co-founders, two men, aim to promote more women employees to leadership positions because they find women are stronger leaders in the workplace. Eagly and Carli’s “Women and Men as Leaders” gender theory of leadership illustrates why AlphaSights might be more inclined to hire and promote women across all nine offices.

Eagly and Carli’s gender theory of leadership explains there are some key distinctions between stereotypically male and female leadership styles. According to the authors’ studies, women leaders tend to be more transformational, more democratic, individually consider followers and their unique needs, and employ contingent reward strategies to incentivize and inspire followers, while men tend to be more task-oriented, hands-off, and autocratic (Eagly and Carli 286). Eagly and Carli explain despite follower preferences for female leadership qualities, women leaders tend to be discriminated against because followers’ implicit association of leadership and maleness causes individuals to prefer male leaders and more readily accept their influence.

At AlphaSights, while both men and women leaders are incredibly charismatic and welcoming, my experiences with women leaders exemplify the subtle gender differences in leadership. My manager, Emily, is highly democratic when working with our team, individually considers team members to tailor guidance and opportunities to our work styles and personalities, and motivates and stimulates us through contingent rewards. Emily is a values-oriented leader and she inspires our team through reminding us of AlphaSights’ mission our role in the company’s progress. For example, this week I met one-on-one with Emily to discuss my goals and aspirations during my time at AlphaSights. Emily listened to my goals and was quick to ask how she could help me progress and how she can tailor herself to fit my needs. She encouraged me to think outside traditional workplace norms to find goals that motivated me to work harder and provided suggestions as to how to I might achieve my goals, and resembled qualities of a transformational leader. She was approachable, authentic, and patient during the meeting, demonstrating Eagly and Carli’s findings about women leaders and their relationship-oriented leadership style. My department Vice President, Chloe, is similar to Emily and values follower feedback to improve her leadership abilities to effectively guide our team. Based on my experiences with Emily and Chloe, I believe Eagly and Carli’s findings about gender and leadership apply to AlphaSights.

While Eagly and Carli’s gender theory applies to AlphaSights and my experiences, I do not think the authors give credit to men who have more traditionally female leadership styles or women who have more traditionally male leadership styles. I have encountered male Vice Presidents who are more feminine in their democratic and contingent reward leadership styles, and women who are more task-oriented and dominant at AlphaSights. The theory does not account for shades of gray within gender and leadership norms which might restrict how I evaluate others who do not align with their gender binary and gendered leadership approach. Nonetheless, understanding subtle differences in gender and leadership can help me better understand how to work with male and female leaders across the company to become a valued follower and strong team member.

One thought on “Empowered Women Empower Women

  • June 20, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Really thoughtful reflection (with citations and everything, thank you)! Really interesting in regards to the gender split in the company. I’d be interested to hear why the two male founders believe women are stronger leaders (e.g. in what way, based on what behaviors, etc.). I’d also be interested to know – which you may discover as you continue – if the nature of the company’s business (the nature of the work that they do) is partly why female leaders are valued and sought after. Could be something interesting to explore. Good discussions about limitations of the gender theory as well.

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