Decline in Women leadership hiring sparks the reemergence of FIU Women Study.

Hand holding up “GRL PWR” sign. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Yansall Rasquides / Staff Writer

With the decline of women hires in leadership positions during the pandemic, a 2014 meta analysis conducted in FIU examining the effectiveness of women leadership has reemerged, challenging society’s gender presumptions.  

  The study, conducted by former FIU professor Samantha Paustian-Underdahl alongside Dr. David Woehr and Dr. Lisa Slattery Walker, found that men and women do not differ in perceived leadership effectiveness when all leadership contexts are considered.

“Perhaps in older studies, men might have been seen as more effective leaders, but in newer studies, maybe that’s a non-significant difference or, women might be seen as more effective leaders today than in the past,” said Paustian-Underdahl.

The study summarized gender differences across 99 different samples from 95 independent studies. When each sample was examined individually, women rated significantly higher than men. 

“We tend to expect that men are going to be more agentic or more masculine, which certain leadership behaviors are kind of considered more agentic and more in line with that masculine stereotype,” said Paustian-Underdahl. “We kind of expect women to be more communal, what’s interesting is that we actually see women leaders are seen as higher on almost every dimension of leadership.” 

Headshot of Dr. Samantha Paustian-Underdahl. Photo Courtesy of Paustian-Underdahl. 

While women were recorded scoring higher in effective leadership, they are still significantly underrepresented within leadership positions. Women hold only 18 percent of senior leadership positions, according to IBM. The low number is due to key factors including that organizations do not see gender equality as a priority. 

“I’m hoping that future research stirs up a larger interest in this,” said Paustian-Underdahl, FSU associate professor of business management. “Having female role models like the Vice President will help encourage more women and change some of the stereotypes and biases that we have around leadership.” 

Abrianna Jean-Baptiste, a senior majoring in global studies and women and gender studies, is the president of FIU’s Pride Student Union. Though they are female passing, they discussed what it is like to be in a leadership position. 

Abrianna Jean-Baptiste smiling in front of a pride decorated door. Photo courtesy of Abrianna Jean-Baptiste. 

“Beforehand, I’ve never really seen someone like me in my leadership roles,” said the gender fluid campus leader. “So I decided to take a bit of that stand and make that spot essentially for myself and hopefully that will inspire others.”

Women have been deemed to be more competent when it comes to applying for jobs, while men tend to be more assuming and confident, according to Harvard Business Review

Dr. Paustian-Underdahl is currently working on a new meta-analysis researching the relationship between the leaders’ genders and every dimension of the 14 leadership behaviors her and the researchers found. 

“Our explanation there is that for women to succeed as leaders, they really have to be extra competent.” said Paustian-Underdahl. “And the women across all these different samples that we include in [meta analysis] are seen as more active leaders than the men are, as they likely have to be to make it in a leadership role.” 

This year, the World Economic Forum Found that it would take 135 years to close the gender gap. Paustian-Underdahl believes it is the women of today that will decrease those odds. 

“As long as your heart is in the right place, and you focus on uplifting the communities that you serve, I think everything will turn out okay, no matter what position you’re in.” said Jean-Baptiste.

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