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What Female Leaders Do Than Men Don't

Which is why we need more of them.

BY Agnes Amondi

Mar 07, 2023, 08:45 AM

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Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan just celebrated her 63rd birthday. She is the first female president of the country and one of a few on the continent. Despite her extensive tenure in leadership, not many people foresaw her ascendency to the top position.

When it happened, albeit surrounding the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli, there was elation everywhere. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t, well, obviously there might have been people but the overall vibe was celebratory. 

This was yet another big stride in the advancement of the course to have women get into leadership positions, and the progress is not just happening here. I mean, Kamala Harris became the first female Vice-President of the United States in 2021. 

During the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Malawian referee Salima Mukansanga, Stephanie Frappart and other female officials officiated men’s games at that level for the first time in history, and the momentum keeps going.

Be that as it may, why is it important to have women in these positions? Are organisations doing it as a gesture of goodwill and in order to tick a box? And, should people feel pressured to vote in or give a position to a woman because they are a woman?

We examine these scenarios.

Why We Should Have Women At The Top.

The saying goes that you cannot be what you cannot see. If you’ve never seen a female vice president, it isn’t easy to think about being one yourself. Previously, women only saw themselves as housewives because that’s what they grew up seeing. 

There wasn’t an alternative to give them the possibility of imagining a life outside the home which is why there was and still there is a need to continue changing this narrative.

That’s happening. Now, young girls have women they can post on their bedroom walls regardless of the industry they want to go into. They no longer have to be forced into picking male role models. It’s fine if they do but at least they now have a choice. 

Redistributing The Weight of Expectation.

When women are few and far in between at the top, they carry a massive burden of representing the entire gender whilst also dealing with the everyday hardships of being a woman in a “man’s world.”  

They are expected to do the impossible; even then, their efforts go unnoticed. These women are often hailed as being ‘one of a kind’ and thus, having a woman in a top position is viewed as an exception and not a norm.
Consequently, when they exit the position, there’s hardly any other woman to fill in their shoes and everything goes back to default. Because of this, having other women around helps redistribute the weight of expectations and keeps the momentum going.

Full Representation.

Having women in leadership positions means that half of the population has a voice. In case you didn’t know, we make up half of the population so excluding us erases a significant portion of it. 

We’ve seen this happening. There’s no way a man would advocate for period leave. Should we expect them to? No, because they don’t experience it so it’s not at the top of their mind.

Would men propose maternity leave? Probably not because even though they become parents, they aren’t physically affected by the experience the way women are. Would they advocate for breastfeeding rooms at work? Again, no because they don’t do it. 

The former Chief Operating Officer for Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, in her bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work & The Will To Lead said that she once attended a business meeting in an office that never had female bathrooms. The men never realised this and never even thought about it because they had their bathrooms. She’s the one who pointed it out and necessitated the change. 


Women might not always get along but the fact that you have someone who can relate to your experience makes a huge difference. We live in a society where certain things are taboo. We just don’t talk about them at all. 

Telling your male boss about your menstruation cramps is not easy and he wouldn’t even understand it, most of the time. Are there those who do, absolutely. But, it’s important to have a similar voice in the room.

Why Are Organisations Doing This Now?

Things have changed in the last 40 years or so and any organisation that’s serious about developing and working with the world cannot ignore such trends. If you stick to the traditional ways of doing things, then you risk running out of business. Is there a financial gain to it? Yes. Is it the sole motivation? Probably not.

Experience and expertise are something organisations chase and if it is a woman, then so be it. Some will argue that they are doing it as the law and even organisational policies require them to. 

Well, having policies is a good thing just as we have requirements for a job. Honestly, at times, people need to have their hands forced to make necessary changes. 

Should You Vouch For A Woman Just Because She Is A Woman?

Absolutely not. If it is an election, you want to vote for the best person for the job. If you are hiring, you want to hire the best person. In any area, you want to have the best. That said, women have been overlooked in the past which is why we’ve had the imbalance and push for their inclusion.

Now that women have been making their way into leadership, the conversation needs to shift to their abilities and what they offer and less about their gender.