Researchers found that women excelled in areas traditionally considered to be the domain of men.

Researchers found that women excelled in areas traditionally considered to be the domain of men.

Last month, the Harvard Business Review published an article entitled "Are Women Better Leaders than Men?"

In it, the CEO of US leadership development consultancy Zenger Folkman, Jack Zenger, and the company's president, Joseph Folkman, found that every one of the 7280 business leaders they surveyed - from executives and managers to supervisors and individual contractors - seemed to think so.

They found that women ranked almost exclusively higher than men when it came to 16 competencies that top leaders most exemplify. These included: inspiring, motivating and developing others, building relationships and collaboration and teamwork.

What most surprised the researchers was that women excelled in areas traditionally considered to be the domain of men.

"Our stereotypes have assumed that men were stronger in driving for results, championing change, taking initiative, and problem solving. Yet, women received higher scores on all those than did their male counterparts," said Zenger.

The survey also delivered some otherwise predictable statistics when it came to the percentage of men in positions of leadership. Holding the overall majority at 64 per cent, the higher up the chain the more those numbers increase, with men comprising 67 per cent of senior management roles and 78 per cent of top management positions.

Will the imbalance change?

A recent Newsweek story, "The rise of China's Billionaire Tiger Women", profiled four self-made tycoons and explained why the country's rapidly growing economy now boasts more female billionaires than any other nation.

It went on to describe a "New China" where women are excelling in business like never before.

Jillian Broadbent, one of Australia's most successful directors and board member of the Reserve Bank, says that when she first started out, women faced an unconscious lack of consideration of their candidacy for senior roles, with male bosses assuming they either wouldn't want them or couldn't do them. But, with the help of government policy, changing attitudes and supportive female mentors, the culture has slowly changed; not just for women but the workplace as a whole.

"You have more interest in individuals and the personal side of things and that can create a warmth in the workplace which mightn't have been there before," she said. "I think there's a greater awareness of the personal and individual elements of people in your team and people respond ... to that. I think there can be quite warmer relationships building at work when you've got a mix of genders."

Broadbent is pragmatic when it comes to having genuine equality in the workplace.

"I think it's just gradually building up the evidence of successful women staying there and keeping on," she said. "That just takes a long time to do, I don't think there's any magic wand."

twitter Follow ExecutiveStyle on Twitter