Women leaders in Latvia

Posted by jlubans on June 07, 2011

My University of Latvia students interviewed 8 Latvian leaders - all women - in libraries and in commerce. The assignment was the second of 3 self managing teams projects for the Spring semester of 2011.
At the end of this post is the text of the assignment hand out. Immediately following are my conclusions about the interviews drawn from student verbal and written reports:
Gender difference is seen by most (of the women interviewed) as a plus in relationship and problem solving. Nevertheless, women take on a lot (the future of the country!) while men may get preferential treatment regardless of qualifications.)

Gender differences can be useful; while men may be seen as less effective they do have some redeeming qualities that balance out the female approach.

Most, if not all, have no mentor. They do stay connected to colleagues, especially ones they respect and admire.

Most leaders view themselves as democratic. They can be firm yet remain open and willing to allow others to participate in decision making.

E-mail me at Lubans1@aol.com in case you want the full text of this report which is a distillation of the student reports.

Below is the assignment I made to the two student teams early in February of this year:

Leadership research fieldwork: Latvian women as leaders
Due: May 20 Friday

Teams of 2 students - assigned April 15 - will interview a Latvian leader about her style of leadership. Our research is to find out how Latvian female managers (in and out of libraries) lead and how their ways of working set them apart from other styles of leadership.

For background information see my article:

Women as leaders: The Latvian Connection: http://blog.lubans.org/index.php?itemid=49

Two students will pair up and develop an interview process, select a subject, set up an appointment, and interview a woman leader for about an hour. Class time on May 13th has been set aside for the interview in case you need the time.

On May 20th, the two students will prepare and present to the class a brief oral findings report in Latvian, with a one page written summary in English for me. The summary should include the date and time of interview, the name of the leader being interviewed, names of the students and the questions that you used. Also, include your most important learnings from the interview.

Suggested interview questions (you may not use all of these depending on how the interview develops – be open to hearing unexpected comments. For example, stories are very important in our understanding of each other, so if your interviewee has stories to tell, apart from answering your questions, listen carefully):

What led you to become an administrator?
For example: Were you called upon to be a leader because of a work situation, or was it because a particular boss who either encouraged or discouraged you from leadership? Or, ….

What are the perceptions of other, non-administrator, women about managing? Did this encourage or discourage you? How about the perception that men have of women administrators?

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your way of leading?

Did you (do you) have a mentor?
If no mentor, did you have someone (spouse, colleague, friend) who encouraged you to seek a higher position, earn another degree or seek additional training?

What sacrifices have you had to make in leading? Would you encourage others to make the same sacrifices?

Do you as a manager lead differently from your male counterparts?
If yes, please describe a few of those differences. How would you characterize the way you lead? (e. g. a mother and her family, a queen and her court, a team, etc.)

What are your most significant strengths as a leader?

What areas of your leadership do you want to improve?

What are the most significant challenges for Latvian women leaders?

What have you found most and least rewarding about becoming an administrator?

Have ideas about traditional roles of Latvian women as leaders changed? What has caused those changes? In your generation, what changes in attitudes toward women as leaders have you witnessed, and what are your expectations for the coming generation?

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