Since time immemorial, the society has presented men as more superior to women, despite the apparent cases where the latter category has engaged in activities or held positions similar to those of the former class of people. The topic of the reluctance of men to allow women to break this glass ceiling has ignited a heated debate among scholars who seek to explain the causes of the phenomenon. Glass ceiling here denotes the state of affairs where females are minimally incorporated into superior job positions (Branzea). Some scholars argue that the problem lies categorically on women, owing to their unwillingness to advance their careers. Others attribute the problem to male dominance, which denies women a chance to ascend to the leadership position. Research on the actual causes of the ceiling is limited, although most scholars agree that male dominance in senior positions is evident in most societies (Akpinar-Sposito 492). What is interesting is that some scholars have argued in favor of men’s superiority, hence raising numerous questions regarding such pre-eminence. Proponents of the theory about men’s superiority use various schools of thought to substantiate their arguments. This paper critically explores the claims to develop a conclusion regarding the validity of the school of thought that supports men’s superiority. In this light, it argues that although the society has depicted men as superior to women, it is crucial to appreciate that the view is outdated since contemporary women have gained the capacity to assume positions that were previously a preserve of males.
Arguments for Men’s Superiority
One of the arguments presented by the supporters of the argument that men are superior to women is that they (men) are physically strong and/or have the ability to perform hard tasks, which are beyond the capacity of women to handle. Therefore, based on the highlighted view, women need to remain in the house where they can perform light household tasks (Beckwith 45). On the other hand, men need to go out and perform the hard tasks, which women cannot easily do in exchange for money to feed their families. In most cultures, women are perceived to be minors who are entitled to perform domestic tasks. However, in the recent past, various countries in the world such as the United States have come up with policies aimed at supporting women to assume leadership positions in the workplace (Bennett et al. 8). However, such laws have faced stiff opposition from males and entrepreneurs who are unwilling to accept female leaders (Condra 97).
Another argument used to support the idea that men are powerful relative to their female counterparts is that they (men) are not only industrious but also brave. Handwork and brevity are the two traits, which are important for leaders and hence the reason why men should be considered for leadership positions. Manisha et al. claim that men are generally outspoken, belligerent, and ambitious compared to women who are perceived to be less aggressive and calm (43). In this regard, women are seen to lack leadership qualities due to deficiencies in the command trait. The view is further supported by the fact that men around the globe take up most of the leadership positions and perform excellently in their respective ranks. For example, in most developed countries, women make up 50% of the workforce. However, only small groups, if any, of female workers, manage to get into leadership positions (Bennett et al. 12). Most women serve in junior capacities in the male-dominated leadership. For many years, leadership positions have been reserved for men while women perform supportive roles. As Sadi and Al-Ghazali reveal, female leaders in the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the USA), make only about 21% of senior management positions. The problem is far worse in developing countries, where women are not only barred from taking leadership positions but are not also represented in the workforce. Although the number of female workers has grown tremendously in the past few decades, only a few women have managed to break the glass ceiling to ascend to managerial positions. The insistence of men leaders, according to the supporters of men superiority theory, by companies around the globe is a clear indicator that men are more capable relative to their female counterparts.
Another argument used by the supporters of men’s superiority to substantiate their views is that women in some countries get equal educational opportunities, just like their male counterparts, but never engage themselves in meaningful employment. Given that the education systems in most countries across the world offer standardized education to both genders, it would be expected that females would have equal chances in the job market. However, the situation is different as evidenced by the high unemployment rates among women. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women make about 50% of the total university graduates (Madimbo 39). Despite the high number of female graduates, only about 13% of them are employed in both the public and the private sector. Besides, not many women choose the business way even after failing to secure employment in the available sectors. The majority of successful business people are men, with women only making a small percentage of the entrepreneurs. However, as much as women in many countries do not choose the business way and hence the reason they are deemed inferior, females in Saudi Arabia are slowly breaking the glass ceiling. For the first time in history, two women from Saudi Arabia appeared in the Fortune’s International list of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business”. Despite the impressive move, the pace in which women are ascending to the leadership position is slow as compared to that of other countries.
Proponents of the view that men are superior to women also argue that the education systems in some countries discriminate against women. Traditionally, the Saudi Arabian educational sector was managed in accordance with the Islamic laws, which guide the religion that is dominant in the country. The Islamic education laws are tailored towards ensuring that students take up courses that reflect their gender (Mathew 416). Consequently, Saudi women often take courses that match their gender, including teaching, nursing, and hospitality among others. On the other hand, men tend to enroll in science courses, thus causing male dominance in science-related fields. Until 2002, two separate bodies regulated the male and female education, with the men schooling being regulated by the Ministry of Education while female education was regulated by the Department of Religious Guidance. The regulation of women’s education by the religious body ensured that girls did not enroll in courses allegedly preserved for men. The described kind of education system explains why most women in Saudi Arabia have remained in junior positions, despite their indisputable academic abilities.
The Seclusion of women from men is evident in the Saudi Arabian schools with women schooling in their own facilities that are way far from those of men. Generally, women are secluded from their male counterparts when they attain the puberty age based on Islamic cultural norms. The problem of seclusion in education in the country is compounded by the fact that the Saudi Arabian culture requires women to have a male sponsor, famously known as a guardian, a situation that further presents men as superior in terms of taking care of the other gender. The guardian must be a male, probably a husband, a father, or a sibling. He must be notified whenever the concerned woman enrolls for a certain course or intends to leave their country to study abroad. The successful enrollment of the women to universities is sorely dependent on the guardian’s support of the move. To emphasize the superiority of men, the concerned woman cannot act against the guardian’s wish.
Lack of proper education for women is the reason why men are viewed as superior to women. The case of Saudi Arabia is illustrative of the mentioned view since women never get employed due to disparities in education. However, in the recent past, the Saudi Arabian government has made changes in the education sector, thus enabling women to enroll in the available institutions of higher learning. As it stands now, about 60% of students in Saudi Arabian universities are women, thanks to the government’s commitment to empowering women academically. Additionally, women are now allowed to participate in the science courses that were previously a preserve for the men who were being depicted as superior. King Khalid University in Abha was the first university to enroll women for the science courses in 2002 (Johns). The enrollment of women in the institutions of higher learning coupled with the removal of restrictions for taking the science courses has enabled a number of women to break the glass ceiling. Following the government’s interventions, the unemployment rates among women have reduced tremendously, implying that women can perform, just like men, if they are given equal opportunities (Bennett et al. 34). This situation underscores the need to give equal opportunities to both genders to avert the stereotypes that men are superior to women. However, despite the impressive move that Saudi Arabia has made, the pace in which women are ascending to the leadership position is slow as compared to that of other countries.
Sandberg disputes the view that men are superior to women, citing the challenges that women face as the barriers to their career advancement (76). In the exception of such barriers, women could perform even better relative to men. Apparently, women have been victimized in the past in terms of education attainment, with only a small fraction of women finding their way to the institutions of higher learning. Pervez et al. attribute the problem to the low education levels attained by women around the globe (1003). Most enterprises consider the level of education when recruiting managers and other senior employees in their respective companies. Therefore, poor education among the women workforce may be a cause for the poor representation of females in leadership. In contrast, men achieve high levels of education since culture in most countries supports male education, as opposed to female schooling. Therefore, the highly learned men are able to assume leadership positions easily compared to the less educated women. This finding contrasts the view that men have extra qualities that make them better leaders compared to women. If women were given equal educational opportunities, perhaps they would make good leaders just like men.
Opponents of the view that men are superior to females also argue that gender roles are to blame for women’s problems and do not have anything to do with their inferiority. In most countries, women are perceived as caretakers whose roles are restricted to taking care of their husbands and children. These stereotypes deny women a chance to advance their careers. Skard adds to the view by attributing the problem of inequality to the reluctance of women to take up leadership positions for fear of victimization (106). For example, in some African countries, women are victimized if they decide to engage in careers that are not related to household tasks. The limitation of their role to that of caretakers is a major barrier to their advancement. If women were empowered to take up other jobs without being victimized, perhaps the assumption that they are inferior would be extirpated.
The other argument that is used by the opponents of the view of men’s superiority is that women either face discrimination by their employers or are reluctant to take up the available opportunities. The stereotypes that are evident in the community about women’s incompetence cause employers to reject female applicants when offering jobs (Baldwin). In some cultures, women are viewed as incompetent persons who cannot make viable decisions on their own and/or must be guided by a man. The advisor may be a father, husband, or any other male. This observation is especially true for countries that are governed through the Sharia laws. Muslim-based laws were applicable in some countries such as Saudi Arabia bar women from participating in certain occasions without the consent of a guardian. For example, in such countries, a woman cannot marry without the approval of parents. Additionally, women cannot make educational and career choices independently without consulting their male counterparts. All the mentioned views are indicative of the barriers that culture places on women’s development. Such perspectives offer enough grounds to dispute the view that women are inferior.
How to Solve the Inequality Issues
One way to solve the gender disparity involves men changing their perceptions toward women. They should see them as equal individuals who need empowerment such as offering them cheap business loans. Bell explores the role of microcredit in promoting women empowerment in Tanzania (45). The author used a mixed-method approach to testing the hypothesis that the enrollment of women in microfinance institutions contributed to an increase in their control over savings and profits. The results of the research confirm the findings by other researchers in the field such as Faraizi et al. who equally found a great connection between microcredit and women empowerment (67). Access to microfinance services allows women to participate in economic development by opening small businesses from which they make enough income to support their families (Faraizi et al. 67). Most women in business rarely depend on men for their upkeep since they can support themselves from the income they earn from their enterprises. Traditionally, women assumed the role of housekeeping and could rarely participate in raising money to support themselves and their families. However, since the establishment of the microfinance institutions, many of them have become financially stable. Microfinance institutions provide low-interest loans, which most women can repay even with meager income from their small businesses (Kato and Kratzer 45). Additionally, the institutions do not require the beneficiaries to present guarantors as witnessed in banks. The microfinance institutions only require borrowers to organize themselves in small groups. Eligibility for a loan is measured based on the group, as opposed to an individual. This situation makes it possible for women who lack real assets to secure loans. By offering such loans, more women would do business. Their success in entrepreneurship would help to alleviate the assumption that victory is only for men (Kumar et al. 116).
Another positive change involves men allowing women to be assigned any role of their choice, as opposed to restricting them to the conventional inferior assignments. As it stands now, tasks are assigned based on gender where women mostly concentrate on domestic assignments, as opposed to performing other economic errands (Das 57). If they were empowered economically, just like their male counterparts, they would be involved in non-household tasks. Therefore, gender equality would take another shape when women become more empowered and less reliant on men. Currently, only a small percentage of women are independent. Most of them depend on men for upkeep. Additionally, only men are able to obtain loans from banks, hence compounding the problem of over-dependence on males (Keerthi 251). If women have financial muscles, their duties will rapidly change from those of housekeepers to entrepreneurship. Men and women would assume equal roles regarding taking care of their families.
Lastly, to address the problem, global governments need to launch education regarding gender equality where men should be the target, as opposed to the conventional situation where women participate in such conferences. They can enact legislation requiring men to embrace equal representation in the public sector. About half of all elective and public sector positions should go to women to avert the assumptions regarding gender roles. According to recent statistics, women make about 50% of the world population and their contribution to development cannot be overlooked (Bryman and Bell 67). However, for many years, they have occupied positions inferior to their male counterparts. Women’s inferiority is not only evident in developing countries but also in developed nations such as the US. However, the situation is worse in the emerging economies apparently due to the low economic growth in such nations. As the globe strives to reduce poverty, women must not be left out since their contribution may help to fasten this goal (Goel 145). As it now stands, most women around the globe occupy inferior positions. Their inferiority is attributed to intense gender discrimination and socially constructed subordination. Governments should target educating the public about the importance of educating women to prepare them for good jobs in the future.
In the recent past, the topic about men’s superiority has sparked a heated debate among scholars, with some of the supporting male supremacy while others dispute the view. This paper has explored the literature regarding the topic with the view of giving an insight concerning gender supremacy. Based on the literature reviewed in this paper, the author concludes that men and women are equal, although the latter class does not get opportunities that equal to those of the former. If women were empowered through education, increased job opportunities, and improved access to microcredit, stereotypes about men’s superiority would be extirpated in the minds of society.
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