With a rise in female interim managers reported across the industry and in Alium’s most recent survey, gender inequity in interim management is eroding at pace. So far this year we have placed our female interim managers across an ever expanding breadth of sectors and disciplines including transport, health, e-commerce, IT, telecoms and the arts. The roles vary from the increasingly popular programme and project management roles, to transformation, commercial, operations and general management positions for female interim managers. This is a very positive development, but what are factors helping female interim managers break out beyond traditional roles and functions?
Factors Encouraging the Rise of Female Interim Managers
As with their counterparts in permanent corporate roles, women continue to be better represented across all professions, but there are still some disciplines which are markedly biased towards one gender or the other. Indeed recent research undertaken by Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University underpins his theory that the ‘female’ brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, and that the ‘male’ brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. Interestingly, you don’t need to be a woman to have a ‘female’ brain - the labels describe characteristics rather than define a gender.
That said, the extent to which biological, sociological, environmental and educational elements impact on an individual’s choice of career is a topic for far greater tomes than this. However, with relationship building being key in today’s business world, empathy can be an incredibly useful skill to have – especially in interim management where you have to be able to understand a team and their drivers almost immediately.
It is also noteworthy, however, that interim management, once the domain of the white-feathered swan song for many, now attracts professionals at an earlier stage in their career. This not only changes the age dynamic, but also shows encouraging gender equity. Indeed, it is rare that genders are even discussed at the point of briefing an interim role. This is not merely about complying with equality legislation – gender no longer forms part of the judgement of an individual’s capability.
Choice and change
There continues to be debate around gender representation at the most senior levels of professional life but popular arguments seem to bypass the fact that many women choose different options and do not necessarily aspire to these roles. For those that do, the path is clearing and attitudes are changing. For those that choose something different, interim management offers them a new professional path that we are seeing is increasingly popular.
What are your thoughts on this? What factors do you think are involved in the rise of female interim managers?