Women Painfully Absent from Harvard Case Studies

In a recent article published on the Harvard Business Review, Lesley Symons and Hermenia Ibarra reveal some stunning facts about the presence of women leaders in case studies published by Harvard.

Of 53 case studies published between 2009 and 2013, only 7 featured a woman in a leadership role. And of those, 2 were actually about male leaders but the writer changed the gender in an attempt to balance a perceived gender inequality and introduce more cases featuring female leadership.

Such numbers are disheartening, but not surprising. Ibarra and Symons further propose that the tendency to ignore the elephant in the room – issues of gender – within the teaching notes for these cases also reinforces the presumption that traditionally male leadership styles are the only ones worth having.

Ibarra and Symons offer a thought-provoking and revealing analysis of what this means, and how persistent gender stereo-types promoted through education are impacting professional women worldwide. Definitely worth the read!

How do women’s leadership styles differ? Do you believe women need to adjust how they behave in a business setting in order to get ahead? Tell us how you’ve adapted your personality to get ahead in the corporate world in the community forum.

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