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Women leaders' views on demand-side strategies

Alyson Byrne (Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada)
Ingrid C. Chadwick (John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Amanda J. Hancock (Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 20 October 2020

Issue publication date: 30 January 2021




The purpose of this paper is to examine female leaders' attitudes toward demand-side strategies to close the gender-leadership gap and discuss implications for organizations.


This article describes the process of knowledge co-creation that took place using an engaged scholarship epistemology over 23 interviews with North American women in senior leadership roles.


Five key themes related to women leaders' attitudes toward demand-side strategies are discussed. Some felt uncertain or opposed toward these strategies, whereas others supported them. Support for these strategies was dependent on perceptions of backlash regarding the implementation of these strategies and the participants' career stage. Finally, participants acknowledged that demand-side strategies are insufficient in isolation and require additional organizational supports.

Research limitations/implications

These findings enhance our understanding and provide theoretical refinement of the mechanisms that drive female leaders' reactions to demand-side strategies to close the gender-leadership gap.

Practical implications

Participants advocated for certain practices to be considered when organizations contemplate the adoption of demand-side strategies. Importantly, participants advocated that the implementation of demand-side strategies would be insufficient unless organizations encourage greater dialogue regarding the gender-leadership gap, that top management support more gender inclusive leadership, and that male colleagues act as allies for women in leadership.


This article extends past research and theory by integrating the pragmatic perspectives of successful female leaders with previous empirical evidence to illustrate different reactions to demand-side strategies and ways for organizations to manage those in their efforts to close the gender-leadership gap.



Special thanks to Meaghan Larkin and Dawn Murphy for their helpful feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.Funding: This work was supported by a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant No. 430-2015-00735).


Byrne, A., Chadwick, I.C. and Hancock, A.J. (2021), "Women leaders' views on demand-side strategies", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 31-50.



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