We challenge the historic research that suggests that men are more strategic than women. “Female leaders are no less adept at strategic thinking, but perceptions of them as inclusive and nurturing can prevent recognition of this”, says Dr John Mervyn-Smith.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s publication, People Management, featured an online article from Dr John focusing on this very topic.
We have explored this theme using a random sample of 2,955 (from a larger data set of 10,000) responses to The GC Index, we looked for differences between men and women relative to the proclivity to be a Strategist.
Our data shows that there were no statistically significant differences between women and men.
When we looked at men and women at board level, the average scores for both genders are almost identical but significantly higher than the general population.
The data suggests that to get to the board strategic thinking is often important but there are no gender differences.
So, why are women often not perceived as being strategic? We found that, consistent with Margaret Thatcher’s view, women in this group are significantly stronger Implementers – ‘doers’ – than men, but equally strong when it comes to being Strategists.
We could speculate about why women are stronger Implementers but the risk, of course, is that these women get labelled as ‘doers’ – that’s what people ‘see’ and so they then fail to see the strategic thinking that brings direction to the doing.
The broader implications for women, regardless of job role, are while you might ‘win your spurs’ by doing, be prepared – if you have the proclivity – to build your reputation as a Strategist.