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The Rise of Women in Leadership Roles

woman looking out window

Although women were estimated to make up more than half the population in the United States in 2021, there’s been a long-standing history of inequality among men and women in the workplace. 

The gender pay gap, the disproportionate amount of men and women in leadership roles, and the fact that it gets even worse when women from underrepresented groups are taken into account illustrate the issues facing women on a daily basis.

However, there seems to be hope for seeing more women in leadership roles according to recent workplace data and the Deloitte article, “Women in the C-suite: Growth in emerging leadership roles creates new opportunities in financial services.” 

In this post, we’ll dive into the growth of C-suite roles, the research that supports women in leadership and how higher education can help women take on more leadership roles. 

The Growth of C-Suite Roles

According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report, women’s representation in the roles that lead to C-suite (entry-level, manager, senior manager/director, vice president) has increased since 2016, but women continue to be underrepresented in the C-suite. They account for just 21% of C-suite roles. 

But, according to the Deloitte article, the expansion of C-suite roles could continue to open more doors for women in leadership. Examples of C-suite roles that didn’t exist 10 years ago include:

  • Chief data officer
  • Chief brand officer
  • Chief learning officer
  • Chief strategy officer 
  • Chief analytics officer
  • Chief sustainability officer
  • Chief diversity and inclusion officer    

The emerging roles of chief diversity and chief learning officers are more likely to be women, representing 86.7% and 61.5% of these roles, as stated by Deloitte’s analysis of over 100 large U.S. financial institutions.

Women in the roles of chief brand and chief sustainability officers are nearly or already equal to the number of men in these positions. Additionally, over the last decade the share of women as chief innovation, chief data analytics or chief digital, and chief strategy officers also exceed their average share in traditional C-suite roles.

C-suite roles are growing and evolving in order to best suit the needs of organizations. Research continues to support the imprint women make in the business world when they’re given the opportunity to lead. 

Research Supports Women In Leadership

The impact of a person’s wellbeing extends far beyond how a person feels — it affects the number of sick days an employee takes, their job performance, burnout and the likelihood of leaving an organization.

Employees’ wellbeing can often impact the bottom line of a company. Gallup shows the high cost of poor wellbeing: 

  • The global cost of turnover and lost productivity due to employee burnout is $322 billion. 
  • For every 10,000 workers, there’s $20 million of additional lost opportunity due to struggling or suffering employees.
  • On average there’s 15-20% of total payroll in voluntary turnover costs due to burnout.

One example of women leaders making an impact at work includes helping employees with their overall wellbeing. 

McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report illustrates women managers offer more support during difficult times, specifically during the COVID-19 crisis. According to employees, the following areas are where female managers consistently outpaced their male counterparts:   

  • Provide emotional support, +12%
  • Checked in on overall wellbeing, +7%
  • Helped make sure workload was manageable, +6%
  • Helped navigate work-life challenges, +5%
  • Helped take action to help prevent or manage burnout, +5%

Therefore, organizations could suffer greatly from the loss of revenue and high employee turnover if their leadership roles aren’t including women. And this is just one way, among the many others, women positively impact the workplace. 

Education As A Strong Path to Leadership 

There’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of equality in the workplace, specifically among leadership roles for women. One clear way to continue to break the glass ceilings that often inhibit women in the workplace is higher education. 

An MBA is a valuable tool for the women who do make it to these senior roles. 

Elissa Sangster, CEO of the Forté Foundation, a non-profit that supports women in business through education, says women who earn an MBA are more likely to make it to senior roles. Sangster notes 40% of female CEOs have an MBA and this shows some consistency around the degree as a pathway to getting into the C-suite. 

Montclair State University offers online MBA programs for working adults who need the flexibility of online education. We offer a general MBA as well as specializations in:

Currently, at Montclair State University, we have a number of women in leadership roles. In the business school, we have Dr. Kimberly K. Hollister, our dean, and Dr. Elizabeth Rosini, Associate Dean for Graduate and Continuing Education, as well as a number of women in other prominent roles. Montclair State University was actually ranked #21 in the list of Best Business Schools for Women in 2021 by College Consensus

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in leadership, then visit our MBA overview page today to learn more information! 

Contact Information


Toby Burris
Montclair State University
Student Recruitment Manager

(973) 435-0909
onlinebusiness@montclair.edu

Do you have questions about the online MBA? You may find it helpful to watch a webinar hosted by Student Recruitment Manager, Toby Burris.

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