Exploring the Leadership Gender Gap

Research studies from global leadership development consultancy Development Dimensions International (DDI) explore why there are not more women in the top ranks of leadership.

Scientists at global leadership development consultancy Development Dimensions International (DDI) wanted to know why there aren’t more women in the top ranks of leadership and released two research studies, DDI’s High-Resolution Leadership (http://www.ddiworld.com/hirezleadership) and Ready-Now Leaders: Cultivating Women in Leadership to Meet Tomorrow’s Business Challenges (http://www.ddiworld.com/resources/library/trend-research/global-leadership-forecast-2014-gender-report) by DDI and The Conference Board, to help find the answers. Here are some findings from their research:

Organizations with more women in leadership roles perform better financially: Organizations in the top 20% of financial performers have 37% of their leaders as women. “When it comes to leadership, gender shouldn’t be an issue, but it is—a business issue,” says DDI CEO Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D. “DDI research shows that when women occupy top leadership spots, it pays dividends to the bottom line in the form of increased revenue and profits.”

Confidence matters: Women are less confident and less likely to rate themselves as highly effective leaders compared to men who highly self-rate their own leadership skills.

Between the sexes, personality gaps exist: Men are 16% more inquisitive than women and 11% more impulsive. Women are interpersonally more sensitive than men by 13%.

The U.S. ranks fourth globally in percentage of women leaders: Across the globe, women comprise a lower proportion of leadership roles than their workforce presence, falling short of men by 20%. Placing first is the Philippines (51% of leaders are women), followed by Thailand (39%). Next is Canada (37%), and fourth is the U.S. (36%). In last place is Japan (10%).

Industries vary with percentage of women in leadership: Industries with the highest percentage of women in leadership roles have more female-dominated workforces and include health care, education, and retail industries (43 to 47% of leaders are women). Those with the lowest number of women in leadership are consumer products, transportation services, computer software, technology, chemicals, energy/ utilities, construction, industrial manufacturing, and automotive/transportation (15 to 30% of leaders are women).

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.