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Leaders have potentials to lead the organisation and foster the success. Many eminent leaders are part of the information technology sector. The IT industry is a huge part of the service sector which has provided ample scope for the development of leadership qualities among talented individuals. This paper examines the challenges of women faced in the IT sector and application of theory to solve these challenges. Gender discrimination is observed in the industry where women do not contribute equally as compared to the male counterparts. These challenges also impact the organisation’s profit and employee performance. This problem can be solved by applying the concept of leader-member exchange theory and transformational leadership to the sector, so that women can participate and contribute to the team and organisational goals. The adoption of an appropriate leadership traits enhances the profit potential of the industry and also contributes to the efficient utilization of human resources. Gender diversity will also help the global economy as the world GDP will rise.
Leaders motivate and influence their followers by motivating them to follow the success path. (McClure, 2011). Leaders are ones who shape the future of the organisation’s and often the success of the firm is dependent on the type of leadership followed (Iles and Preece, 2006). The women leaders are more effective than men and their collaborative style of leadership are highly effective in achieving team goals (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker and Woehr, 2014). On the contrary women constitute a small fraction of the IT sector and face many challenges while preserving their identity in the organisation. The paper aims to explain the leadership style best suited to solve the problem of gender biasness and the application of theoretical example to solve the practical problems of real world. The paper focusses on challenges and discussions about gender diversity in the work culture of the IT sector. It also involves the leadership challenges that women face in the IT sector and the impact of the challenges on the organisations.
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Gender disparity is not only a social issue but also concerns have increased regarding the discrimination of women in the business environment. Women possess same potentials as men but their contribution to labour force and national income earnings are less. The Information Technology (IT) sector is criticized for its gender biasness in the workforce and leadership roles within the organisation. The women in this sector do not pose equal rights in the leadership roles as compared to male employees. There are only few males who recognize the challenges that women face in the industry. (Husain and Dutta, 2013)
It has been revealed by a study of Marcus that on an average, one-third of the total workforce of the top tech companies of Silicon Valley are women. It is observed that only 29% of the women reserved the hierarchical roles in the IT industries. This gap indicates that biasness prevails between women and men work ratio in the IT work culture
The companies engaged in the IT sector claim that the female population studying technical subjects like Mathematics and Science are comparatively less Increase in gender and racial biasness has forced many female employees to resign from their jobs in the IT sector. These claims were rejected by the US study where it was stated that the rate of science and engineering students were more than the hiring companies .Women leadership can increase profitability by 15% and allowing gender diversity will result in reduction of the project costs, improvement in employee performance and increased pay of bonuses to the employees (Abel, 2017).Absence of flexibility in the work provisions and uncooperative work environment and salary are part of discrimination and forms a reason for the resignation by the women employees in the sector. According to Anderson (2016), gender biasness occurs unconsciously in the universities and the workplace. It was observed that unconscious biasness often results to biasness in the decisions at the time of hiring and promoting employees.
Challenges impacting the organisation
According to Ibarra, Ely, and Kolb (2013), it is observed that the females in the organisation are often criticized for being strong in their approaches and the success of women is considered to be the result of other factors and not individual capabilities. The gender biasness often results in lack of diversity in the sector. The industry needs to consider the gender biasness as it may impact the industry’s growth in the long run. The organisations lacks opportunities of diverse work culture and the industry may suffer from profitability and lack of innovations. The companies that allow gender diversity are more successful than those permitting gender disparity. Lack of opportunity for qualified female candidates’ results in the demotivation of potential female employees (Devillard, Sultan and Werner, 2014)
It has been found from the studies of Fernandes, (2014), that the limited presence of female employees in the service sector demotivates the fresh graduates. The empowerment of females in leadership roles and workforce is important to motivate the younger females who possess the potentials of being an eminent leader. The gender disparity results in the loss of industry’s competitive advantage. The companies lack opportunities and diversity in operations due to gender disparity. According to World Economic Forum, (2016), the gender imbalance affects the GDP of global economies and reducing the disparity could add $12 trillion to the world GDP by 2025. The recruitment of women employees will cover the skill shortage in the industry and also introduce diverse thinking in the organisations
Leadership is a process through which the leader influences their followers in fulfilling business goals (Kelsey, 2015). The process is carried through the attributes like principle, morals, quality, facts and skills of the leader (Iqbal, 2011). The firm’s success is largely dominated by the motivation of the employees. The leaders motivate their employees to perform to the best of their ability and hence this helps the firm to reach the goal. The leaders are integral part of the organisation as they the guide the followers to reach the path of success. An ideal leader should be able to motivate, be professional, set own goals, be trustworthy and have high self-worth (Ali, 2012 ;). There are three types of managerial leadership skills mainly technical, Interpersonal and decision making (Selesho and Naile, 2014). A leader is not defined by his position but the skills of observing, understanding and learning defines him as leader (Prewitt, Weil,). It has always been argued about the women leaders and also observed that women are better leaders than men. It has been perceived that women adapt collaborative style whereas men leaders exercise command and control style of leadership. The collaborative style practised by the women leaders are often successful to achieve the organisational and team goals. (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker and Woehr, 2014). The research of Gipson et al. (2017) mentioned that women are better crisis managers which helps the company at times of recession. Change of leadership from men leaders to women leaders gives a new direction to the companies and also help the firms to recover from the economic downfall. Women can be viewed as transformational leaders leading the company to the growth path. Transformational leadership can also be referred to the organisation where all the members of the group are inspired and transformed for achieving the common goal or vision (Kippenberger, 2002). Moreover, by applying transformational leadership in the organization, charismatic and visionary leadership can be frequently incorporated. This in turn, would provide the opportunity to the female workers to work on their skills and knowledge to be at par or better than the male workers in the company. On the other hand, the transformational leaders can bring positive change in their male followers to treat female counterparts equally and provide all the facilities which are enjoyed by male workers. This can support in solving the problem of gender disparity in the organization.
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In context to leader-member exchange theory, the transformational leader can significantly create a platform where the female workers can raise their issues (Kirkbride, 2006).This in turn would support in focusing explicitly on organisational culture and transforming the organisational practices so that both male and female workers can attain equal opportunities. Furthermore, female staff can also share their suggestions on solving the issue raised. One of the core elements of transformational leadership is that it involves the decision making process and the employees are encouraged to exchange their ideas, discuss and participate in achieving team and organisational goals (Herold, et al., 2008) The female employees will benefit from the exchange of ideas and discussions and thereby gender biasness can be reduced. In this style, the leader motivates their followers to perform better and this will help in the motivation of the female employees. It has been evident that transformational leadership is effective and results in the higher productivity of the employees (Murrari, 2015). Thereby, the performance of the female employees can be enhanced by transforming their weaknesses into strengths. This would increase the team morale and efficient contributions from the female employees can be achieved.
One of the key elements of leader-member exchange theory is ethics. When the leaders have high standards of moral and ethical conduct then it is more likely to create a relationship of trust and respect between leaders and followers (Gujral, 2012). It is the responsibility of the leaders to ensure that no ill-treatment is done to the female staff in the organisation. This would not only help in increasing the number of followers but would also support in building positive and sharing work environment (Patterson and Winsten, 2006).
Equality forms one of the attributes of the transformational leader. This can help in maintaining balance between the male and female employees henceforth reducing the gender inequality. Moreover, the chances of conflict between both the genders can be effectively controlled which can provide equal opportunity to grow (Mehrotra, 2005). On the other hand, the work potentials of female employees can be noticed by the transformational leaders. They can stimulate both male and female followers to be innovative and creative. This will help to improve the positions of females in the industry. Moreover, the communication gap between the male and female members can be bridged as well which can further help in the growth and development of employees in a unified manner.
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The fast developing technology and advanced working environment in the IT sector excludes the women to be a part of the organisational goals and leadership positions. The paper relates to the challenges of women in the work environment of the technology sector. The transformational leadership can help to solve the gender disparity in the industry. Leaders bring prosperity to the organisation and if women are given equal importance as the male employees, the industry will be benefitted with diverse culture, creativity and success. The IT industry is vast and should promote the contribution of female employees thereby creating role model for other industries and younger generations to follow. The gender diversity will also help to increase world GDP.
Women participation in the workforce should be encouraged to motivate younger generation. They should be encouraged to manage and lead the company at the global platforms. The hiring and promotions of employees should be strictly conducted on their capabilities and contributions to the firm. Gender biasness in terms of skin, colour and sex should be avoided. Flexible work environment and better remuneration package should be provided to attract skilled workforce. A woman is expected to be involved in executing the responsibilities of motherhood and the organisations should provide adequate leaves accordingly. The discussions reveal that transformational leadership can solve the problem of female discrimination at the workplace. The women workforce can be included in the decision making and encouraged to contribute towards team goals.
The female candidates should be motivated to study analytical subjects in order to be capable to adapt the fast changing world of information technology. Moreover, the creative ideas from female workforce along with male counterparts can help in fulfilling the objective of the industry as a whole. Women should be allowed flexible working environment for their changing responsibilities. In order to accomplish gender parity in the workplace appropriate leadership style needs to be adopted by the industry.8
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