Gender: a factor in leadership development programs.

Author:Bush, Evelyn

Author's Note. Some of the information in this article is from a report by the Center for Innovative Public Policies Inc. titled Assessment of NIC's Executive Leadership Training for Women, 2003, and the research and training completed under the direction of Sharon McDade, Ph.D., who has been working under a cooperative agreement with NIC on leadership development for women since 2002, at George Washington University.

The past three decades have witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of women working in corrections, a male-dominated environment. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1990 and 1995, the number of women working in state or federal correctional facilities rose by 60 percent from 62,833 to 100,659. Successful organizations often consider the mixed composition of staff when identifying their agency's current and future correctional leadership development programs.

Are They Advancing?

According to a July 2002 report by the Human Resources Management Consortium, The 21st Century Federal Manager: A Study of Changing Roles and Competencies (comparisons of 1991 and 2001), the number of women in the work force has increased steadily; however, a disparity remains between the increasing number of women and their corresponding advancement to management positions. Women continue to be under-represented in senior-level leadership positions across all professions, but in the corrections field, they are significantly under-represented. Moreover, studies show that few women have been afforded the same experiences or the quantity and quality of leadership development opportunities as their male counterparts in general, thus, thwarting their ability to compete for higher-level positions.

Women have earned a permanent place in America's work force. It is understandable that they too look forward to reaping the same fruit (e.g., salary increases, promotional opportunities) for their dedication and labor as their male counterparts. To this end, how will organizations respond? Today's leaders understand that a savvy and inclusive organizational climate embraces different management styles, talents, backgrounds and perspectives. A proactive agency will seize the prospect to strengthen its organization by developing the best and brightest employees and intervening in the lives of those with less opportunity.

Gender Matters

In spite of the many advances toward gender equity in the workplace, upward mobility for women has been slow. The corrections...

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