In this light, women have the natural ability to make good managers. Look at the situation where a woman is responsible for running her home. She has to be an excellent manager to be able to prepare her children for school in the morning, fetch water for the house, go to the farm and cook the evening meal for the household within a defined time frame. These are the things that make a good manager. All the African woman needs to be great at a management job is the required level of education.
Unfortunately, the political and business milieu in Africa has very limited space for women, though women make up a majority of the work force in many Sub-Saharan countries. According to a 2016 study by McKinsey’s Women Matter, Africa had only 5% female CEOs, 22% female cabinet members and 24% parliamentarian are women. The Africa Development Bank also revealed in the results of a study titled “Where are the Women” that only 14% of board members in 307 top companies in Africa under the study are women. This shows that out of every 7 board members, only 1 is a woman.
Characteristics of a good manager naturally embedded in women
- A good manager should be able to communicate. This is one of the most import aspects of management because should be able to put vision into words and then take action. Women are great at communicating, both verbally and nonverbally. This makes it easy for them to put their thoughts into words that can be easily understood by all.
- A good manager should be a good leader and a mentor. Most African women are role models in their families, and many people look up to them. They have the natural ability to gather and direct people in a soft but stern way, thereby creating favourable working conditions for their collaborators and subordinates.
- A good manager is a good listener. Many men get easily bored when they have to listen to the complaints of their collaborators or a new idea from a colleague. On the other hand, women are keener at listening and taking note of all what others have to say. This encourages better communication and reduces tension in the workplace.
- Patience is the key. Giving out instructions to collaborators can be very difficult when working with headstrong people. Women are armed with patience, especially those who have families. This is because dealing with children and family in Africa needs a lot of patience because family members are different with different characters. This makes it easy for female managers to work with people from diverse backgrounds.
- Be proactive. Women are very good at being proactive whether at home or in the office. They know how to take good decisions within a short time frame.
- A good manager is a good team builder. It is important to encourage team work in a working environment so that collaborators can share ideas freely and nobody feels left out. This makes the working environment more comfortable for people who do not have the audacity to voice their opinions. Women are natural team builders and this begins with their children at home.
Why African women are not managers
Many Africans believe that a woman’s place is at home, taking care of her husband and making children. Though the African mentality has changed in recent years, and women have become breadwinners for their families, they are yet to occupy the positions they deserve or aspire for in the corporate world and this is because of the following reasons.
There is an educational gap between men and women in Africa. Many African families prefer to send their sons to school and leave their daughters home, so that their mothers can prepare them for marriage. This educational divide is one of the major reasons why women are not able to hold management positions in many companies.
It is believed that women are too emotionally unstable to handle management positions. Women who suffer from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) are likely to have mood swings and feel depressed at some point during the month, and this may affect their judgment. Also many women lack the aggressiveness that is needed to handle very pertinent matters. Being emotional also makes women take negative feedback personally, and this is not good in a working environment.
Popular opinion does not give women the opportunity to prove themselves. It is believed that women are better home than office managers, and this is a great blow to their careers.
What can be done to remedy this situation?
The first and most important thing is to bridge the educational gap between men and women, so they can have equal chances in the job market.
African governments can create programs to empower women so they can have financial autonomy, especially female entrepreneurs.
Women should also be considered as suitable candidates for some of the jobs that have been dominated by me all these years.
Also, Africans need to understand that a woman’s place is not at home or in the kitchen. Women are capable of multitasking, which is also a great quality for a manager. This is a plus for women because most men are very ineffective when it comes to home management.
Despite all these challenges, there is hope for young African women as there are more female CEOs and managers in Africa today than the previous years, which means it is possible to dream and work hard to make those dreams come true.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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