Women leading men and men leading women: Who is the same?

Comment to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article “How the ‘Snow-Woman Effect Slows Women’s Progress,” dated September 16, 2009, by Mary Ann Mason.  See article and reader posts at http://chronicle.com/article/How-the-Snow-Woman-Effect/48377/#top

One cannot argue in essentialist terms (while also arguing against essentialist gender divisions) that women in leadership roles will mitigate risk, men being so risk crazy, while at the same time seeing a need for women to be able to behave aggressively in leadership roles in a putatively typical male fashion.

People should be able to behave in ways that do not warp their individuality, but arguing for the wisdom of mollific feminine ways on the one hand while bemoaning a culture that rejects assertiveness and brassiness in women who would lead on the other hand, strikes me as doublethink.

Maybe I’m wrong, but men leading women would have to conform to certain behaviorial standards that they would not if they were leading men. Likewise, women intending to lead men need to be mindful of who they are intending to inspire and lead.  I’m also not convinced that most women would respond well to either women or men who tried to lead by yelling, stamping feet, being shrill, otherwise crude, and with erring standards of what constitutes good taste and good manners.  The best leaders lead with intelligence, class, and style.


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