Role Women’s Suffrage in the Formation of a Woman in a Male Society

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Women and their allies marched on Washington D.C. in 1913, demanding the right to vote. Among them was Jeanette Pickering Rankin, who four years later became the first U.S. congresswoman. She fought for women’s suffrage, the right to vote, and continued in her role as a suffragist all the way through the passage of affirmative action in 1961 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (Unger, 2017). Now, in the new century, in the early decades of the 2000s— a full hundred years later— women are marching again, this time in pink hats.

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A 2014 study by the Journal of Applied Psychology of the American Psychological Association found that the percentages of positions held by women, including CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and heads of boards in the largest EU companies, were 3.8% and 3.2% respectively with congressional seats and global parliamentary seats held at 16.8% and 19.1% (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker, & Woehr, 2014).

These marginal numbers of women holding leadership positions can be attributed to judgments and prejudice, attitudes about group conformity, and social perceptions. Social roles can be defined as “shared expectations in a group about how particular people are supposed to behave” (Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers, 2016). Women are expected to cook dinner because after all, their place is in the kitchen; they are seen as homemakers and child-raisers, whereas men are viewed as the breadwinners (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker, & Woehr, 2014). Women may not be taken seriously, or they may be seen as unavailable due to family obligations. They are also often viewed as weaker because they might be more empathetic, understanding, and collaborative, and therefore, perceived as softer.

The social perception is that the ability to “direct and control” are viewed as masculine qualities of a good leader, which are then better served by men (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker, & Woehr, 2014). The perceived best characteristics of a leader are agentic traits that are associated with men, whereas communal traits are associated with women. If women act in a way that is typically viewed as masculine, they are seen as stepping out of line (Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers, 2016). Thus, the image that women are the weaker sex and not as strong as men in leadership poses an issue for women.

Either by nature or due to other environmental considerations, such as upbringing, women may be better equipped than men at solving interpersonal conflicts. This arguably makes women more effective leaders. That said, Fielder’s Contingency Theory of Leadership suggests that leaders can only solve relationship-oriented problems in situations where they have moderate control. Conversely, task-oriented problems can be solved with either a high or low level of control (Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers, 2016). Prejudice regarding women’s leadership ability and style may cause them to be more frequently hired into positions where success is harder to attain. Consequently, society might view a woman’s potentially lower success rate at problem-solving as a problem with her leadership style, rather than a relationship-oriented situational challenge, especially when compared to a man in a task-oriented environment. To be a successful leader, one should embody honesty, integrity, drive (including achievement, motivation, ambition, energy, tenacity, and initiative), self-confidence, vision, and cognitive ability (Ahmed & Back, 2014).

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Role Women's Suffrage in the formation of a woman in a male society. (2022, Nov 17). Retrieved from