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Current Issues Related to Women in Leadership

Current Issues Related to Women in Leadership

Women in leadership positions experience various challenges related to completing their leadership-related tasks and being appointed for leadership positions. For example, in my organization, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, where I am currently working as a Customer Advocate II, women interested in leadership positions such as Customer Advocate Manager, Quality Manager, Inventory Manager, and Provider/Member Service Manager must have two to three years of experience working for the company, meet specific education criteria and prove that they have been trained in a different state. Such conditions discourage women from applying for leadership positions in the organization. Therefore, organizations must apply an organizational design that supports women in leadership positions to not only encourage women to seek leadership positions but also make it easier for them to lead effectively, even in male-dominated work environments.

Description of the Design

According to Burton & Obel (2018), an organizational design is a systematic approach to establishing fit between leadership, processes, structures, practices, people, and metrics to help an organization meet its strategy and mission (p. 3). The ideal organization design for supporting women in leadership is the contemporary organization design, which emphasizes customer responsiveness, flexibility, and speed. The contemporary organization design is based on specialization, knowledge and competence, coordination, commitment and control, and adaptation and innovation principles. Specialization focuses on dividing work based on employees’ skills and expertise to increase productivity. Coordination includes ensuring that all activities within the organization are completed based on the organization’s expectations. Competence and knowledge emphasize allocating responsibilities to the team or person fit to handle them. Commitment and control include maintaining engagement among employees and holding them accountable for their actions. Adaptation and innovation include being flexible to the organization’s internal and external environment changes.

The contemporary organization design that supports women in leadership should include a matrix organizational structure. A matrix structure requires employees to report to more than one manager or supervisor. According to Grubenmann (2016), matrix organization structures consist of extra dimensions such as products, business areas, and projects that overlap the conventional functional hierarchy, adding influence, lateral authority, and communication (p. 6). Therefore, the matrix culture can enable women in leadership positions to get support from their followers by using lateral authority. Matrix structure can also contribute to more support for women in leadership by encouraging communication among employees and the exchange of ideas that can be used to increase leadership effectiveness. Figure 1 below shows the contemporary organization design that adopts the matrix structure.

Figure 1

Contemporary Organization Design Applying the Matrix Structure

Note. Figure 1 above indicates that every department in an organization can have a male and female manager, thus encouraging women to seek leadership positions in the organization. Having two department managers from two genders also promotes support for women in leadership because they can get advice from women in other departments or male counterparts within the same department.

Cultural Elements and Rationale for Including the Supporting Elements for the Design

According to Mousa et al. (2023), the main interventions that can help support women in leadership are classified into mentoring and networks, awareness and engagement, organizational processes, organizational support tools, and leadership development (p. 2). Mentoring and networks can help women in leadership get advice on decision-making and how to lead effectively. For example, in the video, Mind the Gap Episode 1: Risk-taking, Michele Meyer-Shipp states that when she was asked to take the position of Chief Diversity Officer at her workplace, she consulted her mentors before making her final decision (KPMG, 2019). Therefore, women in leadership need a network of individuals who can mentor them to lead effectively.

Organizational processes include the tasks assigned to women in leadership positions in an organization. Difficult tasks with limited support may discourage women from seeking leadership positions. A lack of organizational support tools for women in leadership positions in an organization can also discourage women from seeking leadership positions. Organizations must also create opportunities for women to advance to senior leadership positions and offer training to equip women with leadership skills and competencies as part of leadership development. Women in leadership positions must also be regularly updated about the changes that could impact their leadership roles and engage them in decision-making. Therefore, organizations should create an organizational culture that promotes transparent communication and employee engagement.

Organizational culture includes an organization’s beliefs, experiences, attitudes, and values (Oparanma, 2015, p. 15). The contemporary organization design consists of various organizational culture elements that may influence the level of support women in leadership get. One of the cultural elements is identifying and addressing systemic barriers. Systemic barriers include practices, procedures, and policies that unfairly discriminate against a specific group of people. The main systemic barrier that most women in leadership face is the glass ceiling. According to Galsanjigmed & Sekiguchi (2023), the glass ceiling hinders women’s upward movement toward leadership roles and limits their access to leadership positions at higher levels in the organization (p. 370). Therefore, supporting women in leadership positions in the organization requires eliminating the glass ceiling by creating equal opportunities for men and women. This can be achieved through the second cultural element, which is challenging gendered expectations and assumptions of leadership behaviors. There are various gendered assumptions and expectations that suggest that women are unfavorable for leadership positions. For example, according to Bowles et al. (2019), gender norms suggest that women put others first and men are breadwinners in the family (p. 3). Such assumptions may lead to the prioritization of men when assigning leadership positions.

The third cultural element in contemporary organization design is providing mentorship programs. Women in leadership positions require mentorship to overcome the fears they may have about leading effectively and seeking higher leadership positions. Mentorship programs are also essential in encouraging women in leadership to express concerns they may have about the work environment, such as discrimination and unfair compensation. The mentorship programs should include pairing women leaders in junior positions with leaders in senior positions. According to Erzikova & Martinelli (2020), intentionally pairing junior employees with senior-level employees where they regularly meet and discuss decisions, challenges, and progress and where the junior-level employees are given leadership responsibilities could help promote more collaboration and improve ethical and strategic decision-making skills (p. 2). Therefore, organizations should pair managers with more experience with those with average experience when assigning department and project managers under the matrix structure to promote mentorship.

The fourth cultural element that can help in supporting women in leadership under the contemporary organization design is recognition and appreciation. Women in leadership positions in an organization require regular recognition and appreciation to motivate them to lead effectively and advance to higher leadership positions in the organization. Recognition and appreciation may include promotions, salary increases, and extra benefits. Recognition and appreciation are also important for women in leadership positions because they create a sense of fulfillment, thus enhancing their leadership effectiveness. Organizations can enhance appreciation by creating a diversity and inclusion policy that promotes the acceptance and inclusion of women in leadership and decision-making. The diversity and inclusion policy should be integrated into the organization’s policies and procedures to prevent systemic barriers that limit opportunities for women to seek higher leadership positions.


The contemporary organizational design that applies the matrix organizational structure can help organizations support women in leadership positions by enabling women leaders to get support from their followers through lateral authority and by encouraging communication among employees and the exchange of ideas that can be used to increase leadership effectiveness. The main organizational culture elements that should be considered to support women in leadership positions include identifying and addressing systemic barriers, challenging gendered expectations and assumptions of leadership behaviors, providing mentorship programs, and recognizing and appreciating women in leadership positions.


Bowles, H. R., Thomason, B., & Bear, J. B. (2019). Reconceptualizing what and how women negotiate for career advancement. Academy of Management Journal, 62(6), 3.

Burton, R. M., & Obel, B. (2018). The science of organizational design: Fit between structure and coordination. Journal of Organization Design, 7(1), 3.

Erzikova, E., & Martinelli, D. (2020). Leadership & mentorship in the lives of accomplished millennials: Implications for practice. Public Relations Journal, 13(2), 2.

Galsanjigmed, E., & Sekiguchi, T. (2023). Challenges women experience in leadership careers: An integrative review. Merits, 3(2), 370.

Grubenmann, S. (2016). Matrix organization. Journalism Practice, 11(4), 6.

KPMG. (2019, March 8). Mind the gap episode 1: Risk taking. YouTube.

Mousa, M., Garth, B., Boyle, J. A., Riach, K., & Teede, H. J. (2023). Experiences of organizational practices that advance women in health care leadership. JAMA Network Open, 6(3), 2.

Oparanma, A. (2015). Organizational culture: Creating the influence needed for strategic success in health care organizations in Nigeria. Developing Country Studies, 5(17), 15. 2225-0565


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Current Issues Related to Women in Leadership

Current Issues Related to Women in Leadership

PROMPT: Write an essay on your analysis of the current issues related to women in leadership, including issues such as wage disparity, the dominance of male leaders in some industries, and the stereotypical and behavioral expectations of women leaders. Include a brief historical analysis and application to your organization.

This assignment will be graded using the Short Paper Case Study Analysis Guidelines and Rubric.


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