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Mar 8, 2018

Why is there a leadership gender gap, and what do we do about it?

Dr. Shawn Andrews is a keynote speaker and organizational consultant. She has over two decades of corporate experience in the biopharmaceutical industry with a strong history of leading, educating and inspiring others. She has helped thousands of leaders improve and develop their leadership skills and emotional intelligence, and most recently released her first book called The Power Of Perception: Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and The Gender Divide.

Today we talk with Shawn about transformational leadership vs transactional leadership, how women and men approach leadership differently, and the barriers that keep women from the upper echelon of leadership. We also discuss the power of perception and how that plays a role in leadership circles, and strategies for bridging the leadership gender gap. 

Whether you are a woman climbing the corporate ladder or a man in an existing leadership role seeking to understand how to work more effectively with women leaders, our conversation with Dr. Andrews will be well worth your time.  As Shawn summarizes so well, we will all be better off when both women and men are equally invited to bring their natural strengths and skills to the boardroom tables of the world.

Key Takeaways

1) 5.2% women lead S&P 500 companies = 26 female CEOs vs 474 male CEOs. The numbers are improving but we are still a long way from gender balance.

2) 60% of women in US and Europe go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Women do very well in school however the workplace is more of a masculine environment, where women’s strengths are not as valued.

3) Men and women are socialized differently right from the time we are born – in the colors we’re dressed in and the games we play as children. Boys play competitive games, where girls’ games are about the process, collaboration and getting along. We take these roles into the workplace as adults.  It shows up in many different ways.

4) Men and women approach meetings differently – men line up their ducks beforehand whereas women come to the meeting ready to share their ideas, not realizing that the real meeting has already happened.

5) In conversations, men will only nod their head when they are in agreement. Women tend to nod during the conversation, as an acknowledgement that they heard what was being said and as an encouragement to keep going, not necessarily as agreement. Men may be perceived as more decisive in this case, whereas women may be seen as agreeable to everything. It’s not right or wrong, it’s about perception.

6) Men and women have been shown to be equally effective leaders however their styles are generally different. 

7) Transactional leadership is based on an even exchange of transactions between leader and follower. This style of leadership is associated with men more than women. Transformational leadership is based on even levels of cooperation, collaboration and teamwork between leader and follower. It’s also built on collective decision making and problem solving.  This is associated with women more than men.  Both are effective, however transformational leadership will sustain longer in organizations today. If women would leverage their natural transformational leadership skills, they would do very well in leadership roles.  

8) Accessing informal networks – Men are very good at networking with each other, however women have more expansive networks. If women would leverage their networks more, they would go a long way to gaining access to key people.

9) Biases – There are many women with young children who would love to travel and take on other assignments. There are also many men who would not want to travel or take on other assignments. Do not assume either is true, ask.

10) Women – Learn to take more credit for your successes.

Additional Resources

The Power Of Perception: Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and The Gender Divide

25 Page Free Download – Power of Perception Workbook

Dr. Shawn Andrews Bio

Dr. Shawn Andrews is a keynote speaker and organizational consultant. She speaks and consults to a diverse range of clients, including SABMiller Brewing Company, Broadcom, Johnson and Johnson, Biogen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Edwards Life Sciences, Manatt law firm, and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. She leads workshop sessions at a variety of conferences, including the Association for Talent Development and the Society of Human Resource Management.

Shawn is a frequent contributor to the publications of the Association for Talent Development, Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network, and Training Industry. She was the 2017 Diversity & Inclusion columnist for Training Industry Magazine, and in 2015, she received the Training Industry Magazine Editor’s and Readership Award for her writing.

With over two decades of corporate experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, she has a strong history of leading, educating and inspiring others. Shawn is experienced in leadership development, facilitation and training, and has helped thousands of leaders improve and develop using presentations, workshops, coaching, and psychological instruments. She is an accredited practitioner for EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 Model, Insights Discovery Colors, and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership. 

Extensive work experience, coupled with dissertation research, has given her a research-based, expert level of knowledge in Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Gender, and Unconscious Bias, and she is the author of the book, The Power of Perception: Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and the Gender Divide (2018 Morgan James Publishing).

She serves as adjunct professor at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, and teaches courses on Organizational Behavior, Leadership and Ethics, Diversity in Organizations, and Women in Leadership. Her specific areas of focus include Organizational Leadership, Learning & Development, Talent Management, and Diversity & Inclusion.

Shawn holds an Ed.D. degree in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University, an M.B.A. degree from Pepperdine University, and a B.A. degree in Psychology from University of California, Irvine. She has authored multiple published articles and blogs, leads webinars and workshops, and serves on advisory and editorial Boards of Directors. She is founder and CEO of Andrews Research International.

Connect With Dr. Shawn Andrews



Twitter: @drshawnandrews