The benefits of female leadership

Research published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Business and Management points to a growing body of evidence indicating that “female leaders may bring a unique constellation of leadership-related traits, attributes, and behaviors to the workplace that may provide advantages to their organizations.”

According to Zen Media founder and CEO Shama Hyder, these benefits include increased productivity, enhanced collaboration, improved organizational dedication, and decreased employee burnout -- just to name a few.

Part of the reason for this, according to Hyder, is oft-overlooked soft skills. Professor Richard E. Boyatzis, Ph.D., who co-headed the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI), concludes, “If more men acted like women in employing their emotional and social competencies, they would be substantially and distinctly more effective in their work.” Research also indicates women are also better at problem-solving and building trust, according to research.

Making strides but far from equal yet

Despite this abundance of evidence and big steps made to create more gender-inclusive workplaces, women still trail men in management and leadership roles. McKinsey & Company’s most recent Women in the Workplace study reveals just one in five senior business leaders in the USA are women. The numbers are even lower for women of color, who represent just one out of every 25 leaders in the corporate world.

Hyder explains, “Many companies still don't view gender diversity as a priority, because they don't see how it could benefit their bottom line.” This is a short-sighted perspective -- especially given analysis suggesting that companies with women at the C-Suite level are more profitable than those with no female leaders.

They also tend to be more innovative and yet also more circumspect. Management school assistant dean Joe Carella told CNBC, “Men tend to be more driven to action while women tend to be a lot more conservative in the action that they take.” Carella is also quick to note that these strengths and weaknesses are generalizations. “When organizations make decisions, you want to have both,” he adds. A diverse staff is the best way to ensure that.

The value of MBAs for Women

MBAs are one path to helping women realize their business potential in the face of ongoing gender biases and stereotypes. For starters, MBAs can help counter a phenomenon known as “the confidence gap” in which women tend to underestimate their performance while men tend to overestimate it. This also means women are less likely to be as vocal about their abilities and talents -- and are therefore less likely to get noticed for their contributions and apply for and earn promotions and pay rises.

The confidence boost that comes with an MBA may also help women push beyond their comfort zones while simultaneously acquiring the skills, knowledge, credibility and expertise they need to accept risk, lead and innovate. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Forté Foundation, 95 percent of female MBA graduates experienced a confidence boost from their program, while 85 percent credited their career advancement to their MBA degrees.

Another huge benefit of MBAs for women is networking. The connections and relationships developed with classmates, faculty and community members during MBA studies can be invaluable over the course of a career.

Additionally, as many women in business aspire to the flexibility that comes with being their own bosses -- and MBA degrees can open the door to entrepreneurial success which can provide this.

Degree making a difference

Now that we’ve addressed why more women should hold leadership positions and how MBA degrees can help support that initiative, it begs the question: which programs will provide the education and support you need while also preparing to help you hit the ground running in your career?

Unicaf, a global educational organisation, offers recognised online Master’s in Business Administration in partnership with reputable universities in the UK, US, Europe, and Africa. The online Master’s degrees are delivered via a flexible online delivery  -- making it especially suitable for women juggling the demands of school, work, and personal commitments.

“The modules were timely spaced, and this gave me enough time to focus on my job and my family,” says Macmillan Zingoni of Zimbabwe. MBA graduate Macmillan, also received a generous scholarship to pursue her academic goals. “This opportunity was a great doorway to better opportunities and the future,” she adds.

Meanwhile, Nwamaka Onwubuka of Nigeria, Macmillan’s classmate, says, “I’ve always wanted to study at a top university (...), and Unicaf provided that.”

And fellow Unicaf Scholarship recipient and MBA graduate, Maggi Sinbunji of Zambia, explains, “The biggest benefit for me was that I was still able to work and earn an income that is very important for my family.”

This is a theme consistently heard from Unicaf students. The combination of a top-notch curriculum,  flexible online delivery,  and generous scholarship funding makes Unicaf an ideal learning environment for aspiring female business leaders.

Indeed, there’s no better way to understand the degree to which a recognised and accredited MBA can change your career trajectory -- and life! -- than hearing it from the students themselves. The Unicaf Graduate Series offers more first-hand insight into what to expect from the Unicaf experience…

If you’re a woman with the goal of earning yourself a leadership role in business, while also helping to pave the way forward for the women to follow, an accredited MBA degree with a Unicaf scholarship can make all the difference.

Article written in association with Unicaf.