Background

Leadership and power are related to each other in multiple ways. Leadership refers to public power, that is, positions people hold in organizations and society which provide them means to use power over other individuals, groups, and organizations. Leadership is defined as personal influence over other people, that is, having an effect on their behavior with the aim of better results in their work (Weiss, 1996). Power can be defined as a person's ability to influence other people (Hoskings, cited in Cornforth, 1991). Leadership is a value-laden activity, whereas management is more practically orientated. Management is more about administering and controlling, whereas leadership is about innovation and inspiration (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 1999). The main difference between the two is that leaders lead people, whereas managers manage tasks. However, the two do overlap, and it is often hard to separate leadership from management (Hughes et al., 1999). There is no management without leadership and vice versa.

The complex relationships among leadership, power, and gender became a research topic in 1970s, when Kanter started the debate on the "blind spots" of organizational analysis. The aspects of organizational life that hide gender attributes of leadership and power became topical. The prevailing gender-neutral tradition, particularly in the United States, was broken, and the discourse of organizations as sites where gender attributes are presumed and reproduced, started to gain foothold, especially in 1990s (Aaltio and Kovalainen, 2001). The underrepresentation of women in high-status roles has been documented by feminist literature (e.g., Acker, 1992; Auster, 1993; Gherardi, 1995). Schwartz (2000) brought forward one of the early arguments, claiming that because of maternity women have a harder time creating a career; there is a distinct mother track that either slows down or prevents women from career development proper. Hewlett (2002) argues that this claim still holds true.

Gender relations occur in roles and organizational positions; for example, the (female) secretary is subordinate to the (male) boss (Pringle, 1988), and in a similar way the supportive wife/mother looks up to the authoritative husband/father. There are inequalities that favor men on various criteria including salary and professional grade. Male dominance is preserved by multiple barriers, both psychological and structural. Feminist theory argues that sex roles exist in patriarchal societies and organizations where established social structures and relationships favor men (Gough, 1998). Gender regime exists and continues to exist (Wahl, 1992). Social roles are gendered and determined by a variety of social, political, and economic factors, and in addition to sex and biological differences between men and women, there are cultural and historical factors that create them. It is generally believed that leadership, organizational culture, and communication are constructed with a masculine subtext, and dominant views on leadership are difficult to integrate with femininity (Aaltio, 2002; Lipman-Blumen, 1992).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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