By: Beverly Willis and Lecia Corbisiero
Does a distinct ‘female’ leadership style exist? There is growing evidence that it does. Women have been described as having a ‘transformational’ leadership style – which promotes communication, innovation and productivity. This style is of particular value in AEC firms, where these factors are central to everything they do, and are essential for success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Unfortunately women in the building industry in particular also face many significant obstacles on the road to attaining leadership positions. Issues such as a lack of professional networks, entrenched gender bias, work/family balance, and even their own negative ‘self-talk,’ continue to prevent them from reaching their career goals. But at a time when talent is in greater demand than ever, the business case for fully integrating women at all levels within the industry – i.e. the boost to the ‘bottom line’ that has been demonstrated time and again when women are participating on equal footing to men – cannot be overlooked. Having women in leadership positions is no longer just ‘the right thing to do’ – it is good for business. By focusing on the obstacles to women’s advancement and finding ways to overcome them, particularly at the middle management level, AEC firms can capitalize on the unique skill set women bring to the table. In turn, women workers at every level must adapt their own attitudes to empower themselves and encourage a shift in traditional thinking about the kinds of work they are suited for.
The critical issue is not just improving the status of women professionals in the industry – it is about improving the quality of the built environment overall.
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