Regardless of how far we’d like to believe gender equality in the workplace has come, there’s still a yawning gap between male and female leaders in the professional world.
A 2016 statistic shows that women currently hold just 5.8 percent of CEOs positions at S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst.
While it’s not a huge shock that women are somewhat underrepresented in leadership positions, what is surprising though, is the fact that females may actually be better suited to lead in almost every area, at least according to new findings from the BI Norwegian Business School.
In their research, Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen and Professor Lars Glasø surveyed 2,900 managers with a special focus on personality types. The results were clear: Women scored higher than men in four of the five major leadership-centric categories.
“Businesses must always seek to attract customers and clients and to increase productivity and profits. Our results indicate that women naturally rank higher in general than men on ability to innovate and lead with clarity and impact,” explains Martinsen. “These findings pose a legitimate question about the construction of management hierarchy and the current dispensation of women in these roles.”
While some people believe that men inherently make better leaders—probably because they picture a leader as an imposing figure with a commanding voice, which is more typical of men than women—this piece of research suggests that women are better at methodical management and goal-setting, openness, sociability and supportiveness, as well as ability to innovate, take initiative, and communicate clearly.
There was one area in which men scored higher than women, though, and that was on emotional stability and ability to withstand job-related pressure and stress.
The results suggest that women are more sensitive to the effects of high-pressure or highly emotional situations.
“The survey suggests that female leaders may falter through their stronger tendency to worry—or lower emotional stability,” explains Glasø. “However, this does not negate the fact that they are decidedly more suited to management positions than their male counterparts.
If decision-makers ignore this truth, they could effectively be employing less qualified leaders and impairing productivity.” And in fact, one could argue that the very same qualities that make women sensitive to pressure—namely their sociability and supportiveness—are some of the very qualities that make them effective leaders.
Obviously, it’s important to consider individual differences. Anyone, regardless of gender, may be an inspiring leader and a competent boss. But next time you’re hiring for a management position, you just might want to give the resumes from female candidates a harder look.