The New York Times recently posted an article investigating the connection between women and leadership positions; this was done by asking multiple people to list out the words they thought described a good leader; then, they were asked to draw that leader on a piece of paper. Inspired by the results, I did the same thing at Woodstock to see if there was any difference.
All the images below came from the prompt: “Draw a good leader.” First, I asked each person to list the qualities of a good leader.
First up was Dany Mundackal, Class of 2025, who said a good leader is “brave, respectful, friendly, helpful, determined, and fearless.”
Mundackal then drew his picture:
Next was Kritin Garg, Class of 2019, who said that an effective leader was “charismatic, convincing, organized, attentive, and would think of everything to solve a problem.” He also talked about how the leader should be “ballsy, from the heart.” This is so that it is meaningful.
He then drew this picture:
Following him was Mrs. Andeep Kaur, Upper Years chemistry teacher, who said that a good leader was a person “who can move the masses and was sensitive towards the needs of the team.” She proceeded to talk about Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian freedom fighter, who had a “vision of a free India and made it possible through a force of nonviolence.”
She drew this picture:
Mr. Sondeep Peter, Hostel dorm parent, was next. He said that good leaders always thought about others: this includes ways to help them, improve their condition, and to make them happier.
He proceeded to draw this picture:
Following Mr. Peter was Talitha Moses, Class of 2019. She said that a good leader was “compassionate, logical, admirable, respectable, and a good communicator.”
She drew this picture:
The five participants had one common feature in their descriptions: they all drew male leaders.
Finally, Tiara Jain, a sixth-grade girl from the Class of 2024, drew a female leader:
Feminism at Woodstock is a widely discussed topic. As a school that preaches and teaches equality, one might think that this mentality has been solidified in the brains of students.
However, once asked to draw an effective leader, five out of six participants, of varying ages and genders, drew men. Only one participant drew a female leader.
This concept of male dominance in leadership positions is not only present in schools; in fact, the New York Times quotes a study done by the Academy of Management Journal; it stated that “getting noticed as a leader in the workplace is more difficult for women than for men. Even when a man and a woman were reading the same words off a script, only the man’s leadership potential was recognized.”
School, as a microcosm of society, tends to exhibit these very same ideologies; although all the participants did not intend to be biased to one gender, it is clearly evident that it was natural for them to presume that an effective leader was male.
This thought is majorly supported by the history of human beings: most documented rulers in history were powerful men. Men had most of the recognition; while most women, however big their contributions to society, were not recognized. This is proven in a list done by TIME Magazine, where they ranked the top 100 most significant figures of history: only two out of this list were women.
Because most people are only exposed to male leaders, this instills into their minds the stereotype that all leaders are male.
Elizabeth McClean, a professor at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management said, “People have these prototypes in their head about what a leader looks like. When we see an individual, we ask, ‘Do they fit that?’”
Perhaps the need for feminism is greater than previously perceived, after all.