Current Issue

Sept.14, 2011

Vol. 112, No. 1

Gender and leadership

In response to: Limits, still

Published on September14, 2011

The dissatisfaction that led to the report on undergraduate women’s leadership probably is best characterized not as a “quest for equality” in the sense of equal treatment, nondiscrimination, etc., but a problem concerning “leadership.” If we consider the nature, attributes, characteristics, qualifications, and virtues that constitute leadership, it may be that leadership is something that resists being “equalized.” You might say leadership is for the few, not for the many, by definition. Is there any reason to think that men or women are by nature or conditioning better suited to this? Probably not, but the question is controversial.

The report refers to “gender balance” and “gender imbalance”; it also refers to differences between women and men. Gender balance means something different from differences between men and women. Societal norms are elusive and controversial. Tensions arise within the report from the use of disparate analytic concepts.

The report also states: “The degree to which the institutional culture discourages women’s leadership stands in peculiar tension with the current reality of significant women's leadership in the senior administration.” The PAW summary adds: “One alumna told committee members that while female students admire senior University leaders who are women, they become ‘The Man’ and are not seen as women, only as leaders.” Is that a problem to be regretted, or a perception to be validated and appreciated?

If the main thing in making Princeton coeducational was to expand the talent-and-resources pool in the pursuit of excellence, then today’s women leaders in senior administration are doing what they should be doing, and in the process changing the institutional culture consistent with the nature of leadership authority and the pursuit of excellence in the University.

Herman Belz ’59
Rockville, Md.

Post Comments
Comments
1 Response to Gender and leadership

Carl Belz '59 Says:

2011-09-26 09:31:42

Yes, and yes again: worthy and well said.
Tell us what you think about
Gender and leadership
Enter the word as it appears in the picture below
Send
By submitting a comment, you agree to PAW's comment posting policy.
CURRENT ISSUE: Sept.14, 2011

Inbox Search:

Keyword:
Date:

to
* Online archives date back to Sept. 1995. The date filters only work for content posted after December 2007.

Inbox (Archives)

PAW welcomes letters on its contents and topics related to Princeton University. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility; brevity is encouraged. As a general guideline, letters should not exceed 250 words. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to publish all letters received. Letters, articles, photos, and comments submitted to PAW may be published in print, electronic, or other forms. Write to PAW, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542; send email to paw@princeton.edu; or call 609-258-4885.