20.08.2020 in Literature

Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders


Experts, analysts, and managers have studied women’s inequality in business and other spheres of life for a long time. Despite recent efforts to eliminate prejudice and bias in the companies, females rarely hold high positions. Even if someone is lucky to become a leader or the company’s owner, it may surprise individuals, who firmly stand on their belief that there is no place for women in business and elite posts. Particular attention is paid to the males’ unjustified attitude and barriers. The authors recognize the fact that male attributes and men’s active participation in business impedes women’s recognition and career growth. The current paper seeks to summarize and review a thought-provoking book Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders written by Alice Eagly and Linda Carli, who widely discuss the way women have managed to break barriers towards reaching the goal to become the successful leaders.

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Throughout their chapters, Eagly and Carli formulate thought-provoking questions and try to answer them using own views, statistics, and thorough research. From the very beginning, the authors wonder why women are still unequally represented in various spheres of life. Therefore, Eagly and Carli provide evidence on leadership and gender to better understand this issue. Due to the fact that leadership plays a crucial role in the company’s success, every skillful person regardless of his/her gender and social status has to be provided with equal and interrupted access to the elite position. Statistics cited in the book enable the readers to comprehend what is happening in business in reality and what one can expect in the future- radical changes or deteriorating situation. Eagly and Carli describe an obstacle facing a woman then and today as the concrete wall. Unfortunately, the members of minorities continue to suffer from barriers to advancement in the profession, and the history precisely reflects that fact. The next chapter highlights the concept of labyrinth implying the women’s long path towards recognition, and spheres, in which they could succeed. The authors pay particular attention to the statistical data covering past events, including labor division and education. Only by learning the specifics of shifts in social patterns, one can easily forecast the further workplace advancement. Although Eagly and Carli focus mostly on the USA, they still examine female leadership overseas. In order to make a change in own country, it is crucial to refer to the experience of foreign countries, and how they stimulate women’s career growth.


The third chapter questions the naturalness of male leaders. Eagly and Carli refuse to accept the fact that no women, but men dominate and compete from the psychological and natural perspectives, and, therefore, they are provided with leadership qualities. This barrier reflects the bias that only males can become real managers, owners, and leaders. Such aspects as personality, negotiation, and aggression are also taken into account. The evolutionary psychology theory of sexual selection claims that ongoing competitiveness of ancestral men has enabled the further male generation to prepare for leadership psychologically. At the ancient time, women were needed only for reproduction and fertility, and no male roles were assigned to them.

The fourth chapter raises the issue whether or not women are limited in their abilities and opportunities due to the family responsibility. The authors examine the role of housewives and its impact on the professional career and leadership. While some females choose the dismissal, others get the sick-leave, look for more flexible schedule, and part-time employment. Job attributes also distinguish male and female preferences.

The fifth chapter explores the ongoing issue of discrimination that has affected females from distant past. Eagly and Carli pay particular attention to the existing relationship between the leadership and discrimination. Unfortunately, females continue to get less promotion unlike their male counterparts, and not all of them can qualify for the work in senior positions. It may surprise, but women cannot even take advantage, enjoy opportunities, and find themselves working in the dominated fields. Male social workers, librarians, nurses, and teachers reach authority and succeed much more that their female counterparts.

The sixth chapter examines the issues of bias and inequality towards female leaders from the psychological perspective. Stereotypes surrounding the leadership are influential and pervasive. Regardless of one’s skills, qualifications, and experience, people continue to associate male qualities with leadership positions. A woman is seldom perceived as a leader since most prejudices are due to the disparity in people’s thinking.

The seventh chapter examines the way males resist or prevent women from becoming leaders. Even stereotypes do not stop females from struggling for recognition, and success in professional career. Most of the women are selfless and calm, but the leader’s role requires them to become competent and assertive.

In the eighth chapter, the authors wonder if the way of male and female leadership significantly differs. While most of the women value collaboration and democracy in the decision-making process, men prefer to ignore most of the challenges and critical working moments placing them on their subordinates.

The ninth chapter examines in what way the company may jeopardize women’s efforts and aspirations in their way towards leadership. It is also quite difficult for every woman to build social capital. The achievement of organizational culture and desired outcome is complicated due to the male-dominated culture rooted in many companies. Not all female employees are assigned challenging tasks, where they can demonstrate their abilities, skills, and quality. Most of the women cannot access training programs and engage in recruitment practices; they also suffer from subjective attitude. Only by building networks and succeeding outside the native organization, women can promote the social capital within their working environment.

The tenth chapter examines how some women manage to overcome the barriers of the labyrinth to reach leadership positions while others fail to pass it. The last eleventh chapter explores the positive aspects of being a female leader and forecasts the future of leadership. Every woman should demonstrate that she is able to create social capital. Advancement in the male-dominated working environment requires perseverance and responsibility from the skillful and strong female workers. Eagly and Carli admit that current barriers impede women from holding leadership positions. Restrictions and discrimination should be finally eliminated; democratic values have to be of high priority for every CEO and manager.


Eagly and Carli base their analysis of leadership and gender on the comprehensive research derived from various fields such as management, sociology, statistics, and psychology. Conclusions are grounded on the authors’ personal views, narratives, and real life stories of individuals affected by discrimination in the workplace. In my opinion, the restriction of women’s access to leadership has to be eliminated, as, today, companies lack genuine leadership. The book points out to the fields, where discrimination and prejudice towards women prevail and the way a person can eliminate them. Eagly and Carli have been examining the inequality in the business sphere for many years. They also believe that women can easily become leaders owing to their perseverance and the ability to make wise decisions. I agree with the authors that female managers act more actively and carefully in difficult situations thus saving business. Unlike men, women are less bound by the rules and stereotypes, and, while developing tactics, females attentively listen to the opinions of others. They are able to rally a team of colleagues towards reaching the set objectives. However, not all men recognize this fact. The book of Eagly and Carli is fully explored, informed and well-organized due to the inclusion of experiments, studies, polls, first-person narratives, and interesting anecdotes thus increasing the readers’ interest in business and its gender issue.

Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders presents the valuable information on how females can prosper and successfully pass the labyrinth. In my opinion, it is one of a few books that begins a chapter with the question thus enabling readers to respond to it referring to the personal experience. The account is helpful to those, who have already succeeded in business, and females, who seek professional development and leadership posts. Eagly and Carli encourage examining the issue of women’s leadership from the male perspective; male leaders and managers have to share information about their collaboration and joint work with female counterparts. Only the reliable evidence can help to resolve the gender issue. Although the important book narrates about the women’s leadership in the USA, the authors also refer to the experience of other countries. Every large company should attract more women in its senior positions as females with their intuition and logic can find the correct solution in the cases, where men reach a deadlock.


To conclude, in their practical book Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders, Eagly and Carli examine women’s inequality and obstacles that they have to overcome to become leaders. They are forced to properly navigate through the labyrinth towards reaching the set goal. This account is important for any reader, who wants to get informed and convincing answers to questions concerning the long path that females have had to undergo towards reaching elite positions and become leaders. Stereotypes that restrict their ability to enjoy opportunities are also deeply examined. Eagly and Carli urge to provide an interrupted access and eliminate obstacles to leadership.

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