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Gender at work, one size does not fit all

Inge Woudstra (W2O Consulting and Training, Bookham, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 5 September 2016




Leaders have learned to lead men. Women are different and organisations will need to adapt to maximise progress and performance of women as well as men. Line managers need to be aware of gender differences in their approach of a mixed gender team. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


In a review of literature, key gender differences that could play a role at work were identified. Five top sports coaches were interviewed to find how they had to adapt to improve performance of female teams. Practical application of their strategies in organisations was tested in four workshops and 15 interviews with women and managers.


Six key gender differences were identified. Top sports coaches confirmed that they had to adapt their style to a female team, and could relate those to some of the differences from literature. The workshops and interviews showed that teaching managers to adapt their style is a promising approach.

Research limitations/implications

The research was set up to find if there is merit in being aware of gender differences in organisations. There is, but as it is exploratory research it is now important to find further evidence.


Gender diversity efforts tend to be focused on equality, flexible working, and upgrading women’s skills. This paper highlights that those initiatives are not enough, and organisations need to adapt to women’s needs to maximise performance and progress of women as well as men.



Woudstra, I. (2016), "Gender at work, one size does not fit all", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 48 No. 7, pp. 349-353.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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