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Is it still a man’s world?


Survey finds that women were voted to have better communication skills

June 2, 2014 10:00 by

By Nadine Sayegh

It all started out with a few women who wondered why they were not permitted to do the same things that men could.  Many years, political battles and countless protests later, success is on almost every woman’s doorstep.

While there are still many cultures across the world who are still adapting to the notion that women are, indeed, as capable as men, the climate in the business world is changing rapidly.

According to the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM), a global survey that polled more than 6,500 people across 13 countries to gain insight on the link between effective leadership and effective communication, found that women are outperforming men in a majority of studied areas.

The KLCM survey found that, in the UAE, female leaders were voted to have better communication skills (61 per cent vs. 39 per cent), in addition to ranking higher than male leaders in ‘bringing out the best in others’ (56 per cent vs. 44 per cent). The results also show that women are considered to be better at admitting mistakes than their male counterparts (61 per cent vs. 39 per cent).

Kippreport spoke to Fatimah Baeshen, an independent socioeconomic research and development expert for the GCC region who specializes in Islamic Finance, who feels that there is a positive change occurring in the region.

She says: “I think that Middle East culture is already adapting and making room for women to advance in management status, and this can be substantiated by the business, government, and public sector women leaders we see emerging across the region. Time and time again, women have proven themselves to be articulate, detail-oriented, and more than just competent! And, given the region’s socioeconomic struggles, society has to embrace the professional capacity of women in order to propel the entire region forward into a more positive trajectory. “

There seems to be an increasingly prominent trend of a new kind of, more feminine, leadership, where women are not expected to display male attributes in order to prove successful.

Nicola Gregson , managing director for Ketchum-Raad Middle East said, “This research is finally putting to rest the flawed assumption that women need to come across as aggressive, vocal or dominant leaders to make their mark.  We are seeing the birth and acceptance of a new model of leadership communication based on transparency, collaboration, genuine dialogue, clear values and the alignment of words and deeds, a model being followed far more consistently by female leaders.”

Baeshen also adds that, “Women, by nature, are typically more compassionate, therefore we, most of the time, have an intrinsic inclination to lead, not by force, but by building consensus in placing ourselves in others’ shoes and obtaining group opinions, making an entire team feel as though they are part of the decision process, even if the objective had already been established.”

However, the KLCM report also notes that while there is a positive turn for the nation, 63 per cent of respondents feel that there is a higher probability that male leaders will guide the nation through future challenges and obstacles for the next five years. This is compared to the global response, which sits at 54 per cent.

Also, many feel that male leaders are better suited to handle controversial matters in a calm manner (58 per cent) while only 42 per cent believe that female leaders are capable of doing so. This compares to the global response of 48 per cent in favor of women and 52 per cent in favor of men.

“Seeing the progress women have made, especially in the region, even just in the last five years, has been tremendous. But, we still have a way to go. This is not endemic to the Middle East or GCC, but across the globe. I would not say that I’ve experienced discrimination, per say, but I would say that I’ve had to substantiate my position more when providing strategic business advice because I’m a woman,” says Baeshen.

While gender equality is a priority for many, it is encouraging to see positive responses across the UAE. As long as the culture is progressing on the right track, the endemic of gender discrimination is bound to come to a halt.

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