Are women transforming
descriptions of the "manager of the future" uncannily match those of
female leadership, writes futurist Ivana Milojević from Brisbane.
"Consultants try to teach male managers to relinquish the
command-and-control mode. For women that came naturally – many of
the attributes for which women's leadership is praised are rooted in
women's socialised roles. The traditional female value of caring for
others – balanced with sufficient objectivity – is the basis of the
management skill of supporting and encouraging people and bringing
out their best, a skill now highly valued by management experts."
Working at the University of Queensland, Ivana Milojevic has a
special interest in feminist futures, which she has been researching
with data from Australian as well as global sources. She argues
that while women have come a long way toward taking their place on
an equal footing with men at work, there is still a long way to
go. However much of this ground may be covered by organisations
moving forward to meet feminine values, rather than women fighting
for recognition in organisations.
Another key factor is the strong role of women in developing small
business, and creating job opportunities in small enterprises for
themselves and others.
"In the future, institutions will be organised according to the
networking model (as opposed to the pyramid structure)," she said.
"The top responsibility of managers will be creating a nourishing
environment for personal growth, providing holistic development and
motivation. The management style of women is ideally suited to
these people priorities."
More than half of women business owners (53%) emphasize intuitive or
"right-brain" thinking. This style stresses creativity, sensitivity
and values-based decision making. Seven out of ten (71 per cent)
male business owners emphasize logical or "left-brain" thinking.
This style stresses analysis, processing information methodically
and developing procedures.
Women business owners' decision-making style is more "whole-brained"
than their male counterparts, that is, more evenly distributed
between right and left brain thinking.
According to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners,
women business owners are more likely than all businesses to offer
flextime, tuition reimbursement and job sharing. Women business
owners tend to share their business' profit with employees at a much
earlier stage than other businesses: nearly twice as many
woman-owned firms employing fewer than 25 employees (14%) have set
up such programs compared to all small firms with 20 or less
"Forty per cent of women-owned businesses offer flexitime, while
only 30 per cent of all small firms do, which suggests that women
business owners are more likely than all business owners to
accommodate the special work needs of their employees.
"This gap widens as business size increases, with 40 per cent of
women-owned firms with 25 or more employees offering flexitime,
compared with only 19 per cent of all firms of approximately the
Involvement in the professional development of employees is another
area where women-owned businesses differ in the benefits
opportunities provided. Twenty-one percent of women-owned businesses
offer tuition reimbursement programs, compared with only 8 per cent
of all small businesses.
"The employee benefits offered by women-owned businesses make it
evident that these firms are not only a powerful economic force, but
are also an important and influential social force," says Ivana
"At every stage in their businesses, even when the organisations are
young or small, women business owners provide their employees with a
comprehensive package of benefits which set the standard for the
rest of society."
Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt, authors of Megatrends for
Women (1992), agree that the trend is toward a women's
leadership style, based on openness, trust, ongoing education,
compassion and understanding. Women are more likely to succeed
because women admit they need help and surround themselves with good
people: they are cautions, strategic risk takers, whose
resourcefulness and resolve increase as circumstance become more
difficult (this from a study by Avon Corporation and an American
based research firm).
Qualities usually mentioned include attitudes towards team building
and consensus. For example, a study of 550 city managers in the US
showed that women were more likely than their male counterparts to
incorporate citizen input, facilitate communication and encourage
citizen involvement in their decision-making.
panel - WOMEN AT
Women-owned businesses are now employing more people in the United
States than the Fortune 500 companies worldwide.
The number of women-owned firms in the United States has jumped 103
percent from 1987 to 1999. Today there are 9.1 million, representing
38 percent of all businesses and employing more than 27.5 million
In 1987 two million female-owned businesses had $US25bn in sales.
One year later, five million female-owned businesses had $US83bn in
Top growth industries for women-owned businesses between 1987 and
1999 were construction, wholesale trade, transportation/
communications, agribusiness, and manufacturing.
Women-owned businesses are as financially sound and creditworthy as
the typical firm in the U.S. economy, and are more likely to remain
in business than the average US firm.
Around the world, women-owned firms comprise between one-quarter
and one-third of the businesses in the formal economy, and are
likely to play an even greater role in informal sectors.
In Japan, the number of women managers is still small (around
300,000), but it has more than doubled over the past 10 years.
In Australia, the proportion of women working in their own business
is also growing. Women working in their own business in Australia
numbered 216,300 in 1983-84 and 272,400 in 1989-90, an increase of
approximately 26 per cent.