Women in International Business and Leadership | Free Essay Example

Women in International Business and Leadership

Words: 931
Topic: Sociology


Women empowerment and gender equality are a common concern for every country in the world. Women have been underrepresented in most cases when it comes to many domains, including economic matters. Areas of education, leadership, employment, and trade are among the few sectors with high levels of gender disparities. Global competition and antidiscrimination policies are compelling businesses to improve their success by employing people based on skills and talent rather than gender, nationality, and race, among others (Kroupová 34). Kroupová explains that although women comprise nearly half of the global population, their representation in the corporate world is insignificant because top corporate positions are dominated by their male counterparts (34). Women are poorly represented in both business leadership and entrepreneurship due to cultural barriers, but the situation is improving with a reduction in the gender gap.

Women in Business Leadership

The level of women in business leadership is far much below that of their male colleagues. Only 2.5% of executive directorship position in India comprise of women compared to 15.4% and 1.7% in Australia and Canada, respectively (Bullough et al. 3). Given the rate at which the world if going, gender equality in economics and education will be achieved after 170 years (Schwab et al. 47). Firm-level studies conducted in 2014, comprising 21,980 firms in 91 countries, revealed low female participation in executive positions and corporate boards (Noland et al. 4). 60% of all these firms had no female members on their boards, and more than half lacked female executives (Noland et al. 4). Therefore, female representation is still low in corporate leadership.

Out of the women in executive positions, few are in significant leadership roles. A majority of women in executive leadership are in supporting positions and not leading executive teams (Bullough et al. 10). According to Bullough et al., most of the women in senior management in 2016 were chief marketing officers (11%), chief financial officers (21%), and human resource directors (23%), with only 9% being managing directors or chief executives (10). For the director’s positions in major corporations, variations in female representation occur depending on the country. The United Kingdom has 7% female directors, 9% for Australia, 13% for the US, 14% for Sweden, and 22% for Norway (Kroupová 35). These numbers are still insignificant, given the population size of this gender in the entire world.

However, the situation is improving for the better, since the number of women in corporate leadership is increasing. In the 1990s, women took only 2% of the senior management jobs in Europe and 3% in major American corporations (Kroupová 35). Recent data indicate that in January 2016, 26% of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 company directors were women compared to 13% in 2011, which is even a tremendous improvement compared to 23.5% in 2015 (Audickas 17). Furthermore, 21% of the FTSE 100 boards comprised of men only, but in 2016, there were no all-male boards in these companies (Audickas 17). Therefore, the situation has improved significantly towards the narrowing of the gender gap in business leadership.

Women in Entrepreneurship

Women entrepreneurship data shows that female entrepreneurs across the globe are increasing in number while gender disparity is tremendously reducing. In 60 countries around the entire world, 98 million women had an established business, while 126 million were either starting or running a new business (Bullough et al. 19). Internationally, early-stage entrepreneurship activity rates have increased by 7% while the gender gap has shrunk by 6% (Bullough et al. 19). Terjesen et al. further explain that the subject of women entrepreneurship is understudied, which implies that more women are in the field (87). These phenomena show that women are increasingly taking a step forward in creating businesses, a move that will likely attract respect concerning their contribution to the corporate world and the economy as a whole.

Barriers Limiting Women from Active Business Participation

Many barriers have been a hindrance not only to taking active roles in business employment and entrepreneurship but also in corporate leadership. In their study, Kemp et al. found that in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the traditional cultures compel women not to search for or get promoted to leadership positions (215). Additionally, some laws in such countries and religions restrict men working with women. Women are also motivated to assume leadership in supportive executive roles such as human resources and marketing while men take the leadership ones because of culture (Bullough et al. 19). Business organizations prefer recruiting men in senior positions, something that widens the gender gap in corporate leadership. Culture further limits female education with those who go to school motivated to take some disciplines because of their gender (Hango). Such a thing limits competition for active business participation between the two genders. Additionally, culture has defined gender roles, and women are expected not to work outside their homes since they are supposed to undertake domestic roles, which gives men an edging advantage (Bullough et al. 19). Therefore, women face serious cultural hurdles that limit hinder them from actively participating in business activities.


Although the gender gap is reducing in business leadership and entrepreneurship, cultural barriers have an adverse impact on business participation in women. A majority of women are out of corporate leadership. Those in leadership are in supportive roles, with only a few taking leading executive positions. Moreover, female entrepreneurship is increasing with millions of women across the globe, either starting or running a business. Cultural barriers that limit women from working with men, taking active leadership positions, and denying them the freedom to acquire education are the biggest problem.

Works Cited

Audickas, Lukas. Women around the World: International Women’s Day 2016. 2016, Web.

Bullough, Amanda, et al. Research on Women in International Business and Management: Then, Now, and Next. 2017, Web.

Hango, Darcy. Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (STEM) Programs at University. 2015,  Web.

Kemp, Linzi J., et al. “Women in business leadership: A Comparative Study of countries in the Gulf Arab states.” International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, vol. 15, no. 2, 2015, pp. 215-233.

Kroupová, Zuzana Křečková. “The role of women in International Business World and in the Czech Republic.” Acta Oeconomica Pragensia, vol. 2009, no. 4, 2009, pp. 34-41.

Noland, Marcus, et al. Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey. 2016, Web.

Schwab, Klaus et al. The Global Gender Gap Report 2016. World Economic Forum, 2016, pp.24-50.

Terjesen, Siri, et al. “Gender and new venture creation.” Handbook of Research on New Venture Creation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2011, pp. 85-98.