Women bosses can change the world by challenging the ‘virility myth’

In the corporate world, men still dominate executive roles while women struggle to achieve high-up positions – despite outperforming their male counterparts in such roles. Social entrepreneur Isabella Lenarduzzi believes that an influx of women in such roles will see a revolution in management styles and corporate values.

Study after study reveals an embarrassing truth for those male chauvinists who want to preserve masculine hegemony in the corporate world. Rather than struggling to survive in “a man’s world”, female CEOs often outperform their male counterparts. Yet, despite hard evidence of competence, women hardly ever get appointed as bosses. Worldwide, only 4% of CEOs and 10.5% of CFOs are female, according to the Swiss consultancy Egon Zehnder. There were small signs of encouragement in the US this year when the number of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 rose to a record 32, but that’s still only 6.4% of the total. It begs the question – if women’s natural empathy makes them inspirational leaders, why do they rarely get a chance? And what can be done to change the situation?

Isabella Lenarduzzi, a Brussels-based social entrepreneur, has been obsessed with solving these issues for 30 years. She founded the gender equality agency Jump, which has branches in Brussels and Paris, to “change the world” by creating the conditions that allow women to reach the C-suite. When women finally arrive in greater numbers, it will accelerate the process of change, triggering a revolution in management styles and corporate values, she believes. “Everyone will benefit. It will even lift the burden on men, who are as much victims of their own virility myths as are women,” Lenarduzzi says.

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