Thursday, February 8, 2024

Women leaders are no more morally pure than men

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We’ve long believed women leaders would challenge and change selfish and materialist values they found at the top. But evidence suggests not.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Image: AP/J Scott Applewhite)

The past few years have been troubling times for women leaders in the West. Although they have made important gains in top and visible leadership roles — culminating in Australia with our first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, in 2010 — some of the problems identified by our first female elected representative, Edith Cowan, in the 1920s, continue to rear their heads. 

These include an obsessive focus on irrelevancies such as how a woman looks and whether she has children, the disregard of her ideas in meetings only to have them endorsed when they emerge from the mouths of men, and the persistence of soul- and career-destroying sexual harassment and assault. 

Double standards persist, too. The ways in which the same behaviours are judged as proof of leadership capacity in men, but are disqualifying when done by women — a problem that academic analysis puts down to the fact that the Anglosphere’s very definition of leadership is a collection of traits — assertiveness, competitiveness, decisiveness — that sexist cultures associate with masculinity. 

Read more about the myth of moral superiority from women in leadership roles…

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