e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 30 (1) Mar. 2022 / JSSH-8182-2021


Determination in Leadership: A Study on Women’s Leadership in Indian Government Services and Armed Forces

Hemlata Vivek Gaikwad and Suruchi Pandey

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 30, Issue 1, March 2022


Keywords: Armed forces, government services, India, intersectionality, leadership, women

Published on: 16 March 2022

This article describes lived experiences of successful women leaders in government administration organizations in India. The analysis of women’s experiences revealed the enablers and deterrents faced by these women in their leadership trajectories. These factors are categorized as an individual: family background and childhood experiences, self-aspiration and leadership development and work-life balance and familial support or organizational viz. workplace and sociocultural challenges and success mantras. A combination of them has influenced the progression of these women. The results present the need for a massive social change initiated by human service organizations to shift the so-called patriarchal social system. The paper has identified various dimensions like prioritizing promoting diversity, mentoring, and redesign of human resource policies which need to be focused. Also, the organizations and government can use these findings to design development programs for realistically promoting more women to higher positions.

  • Akpinar-Sposito, C. (2013). Career barriers for women executives and the glass ceiling syndrome: The case study comparison between French and Turkish women executives. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 75, 488-497.

  • Alsharif, S. A. (2018). The challenges associated with women career development at the state universities in Saudi Arabia: A ground theory approach. International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies, 6(2), 18-30.

  • Anne, M., Callahan, J., & Kang, H. (2013). Gender and caste intersectionality in the Indian context. Human Resource Management, 2013(6), 31-48.

  • Bell, M. P., Girdauskiene, L., & Eyvazzade, F. (2015). The profile of an effective female leadership in multicultural context peer-review under responsibility of 4th International Conference on Leadership, Technology, Innovation and Business Management. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 210, 11-20.

  • Beniwal, V. S., & James, B. D. (2019). Women in Indian public administration: Prospects and challenges. Journal of Public Administration and Governance, 9(3), 210-224.

  • Bhattacharya, S., Mohapatra, S., & Bhattacharya, S. (2018). Women advancing to leadership positions: A qualitative study of women leaders in IT and ITES sector in India. South Asian Journal of Human Resources Management, 5(2), 150-172.

  • Billing, Y. D., & Alvesson, M. (2000). Questioning the notion of feminine leadership: A critical perspective on the gender labelling of leadership. Gender, Work and Organization, 7(3), 144-157.

  • Birt, L., Scott, S., Cavers, D., Campbell, C., & Walter, F. (2016). Member checking: A tool to enhance trustworthiness or merely a nod to validation? Qualitative Health Research, 26(13), 1802-1811.

  • Bowling, C. J., Kelleher, C. A., Jones, J., & Wright, D. S. (2006). Cracked ceilings, firmer floors, and weakening walls: Trends and patterns in gender representation among executives leading American State Agencies, 1970–2000. Public Administration Review, 66(6), 823-836.

  • Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

  • Bushee, B. J., Core, J. E., Guay, W., & Hamm, S. J. W. (2010). The role of the business press as an information intermediary. Journal of Accounting Research, 48(1), 1-19.

  • Chapman, T., & Mishra, V. (2019). Rewriting the rules: Women and work in India (ORF Special Report No. 80). Observer Research Foundation.

  • Chaturvedi, G., & Sahai, G. (2019). Understanding women’s aspirations: A study in three Indian states. ANTYAJAA: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change, 4(1), 70-91.

  • Christie, M., O’Neill, M., Rutter, K., Young, G., & Medland, A. (2017). Understanding why women are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) within higher education: A regional case study. Production, 27(Special issue).

  • Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. SAGE Publications.

  • Dasgupta, N., & Asgari, S. (2004). Seeing is believing: Exposure to counterstereotypic women leaders and its effect on the malleability of automatic gender stereotyping. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40(5), 642-658.

  • Deloitte. (2015). Mind the gaps: The 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey Executive summary.

  • Department of Personnel and Training. (n.d.). Revised AIS Rule. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India.

  • Dhingra, S. (2019, October 18). How the Indian civil services continue to remain a boys’ club. The Print.

  • Dudman, J. (2016, January 26). Women still denied fair share of top jobs in civil service worldwide. The Guardian.

  • Duflo, E., & Topalova, P. (2004). Unappreciated service: Performance, perceptions, and women. Framed Field Experiments.

  • Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007). Through the labyrinth: The truth about how women become leaders (Center for Public Leadership). Harvard Business Review Press.

  • Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109(3), 573-598.

  • Eccles, J. S. (1987). Gender roles and women’s achievement-related decisions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11(2), 135-172.

  • Flores, G. M. (2011). Racialized tokens: Latina teachers negotiating, surviving and thriving in a White Woman’s profession. Qualitative Sociology, 34(2), 313-335.

  • Gandhi, M., & Sen, K. (2020). Missing women in Indian university leadership: Barriers and facilitators. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 49(2), 352-369.

  • García-González, J., Forcén, P., & Jimenez-Sanchez, M. (2019). Men and women differ in their perception of gender bias in research institutions. PLOS ONE, 14(2), Article e0225763.

  • Gipson, A. N., Pfaff, D. L., Mendelsohn, D. B., Catenacci, L. T., & Burke, W. W. (2017). Women and leadership: Selection, Development, leadership style, and performance. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 53(1).

  • Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Aldine.

  • Grady, M. L., Russell Curley, V., LaCost, B., & Russell, V. (2008). Women leaders tell their stories. Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, 6(4), 65.

  • Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods, 18(1), 59-82.

  • Gupta, V., & Saran, A. (2013). Making of the trendsetter generation of women leaders in India: Dimensionalizing the impact of economic liberation. The IUP Journal of Business Strategy, 10(2), 7-21.

  • Guy, M. E., & Newman, M. A. (2004). Women’s jobs, men’s jobs: Sex segregation and emotional labor. Public Administration Review, 64, 289-298.

  • Haq, R. (2013). Intersectionality of gender and other forms of identity: Dilemmas and challenges facing women in India. Gender in Management, 28(3), 171-184.

  • Hart, E. W. (2009). In focus/ mentoring -Nurturing relationships provide many benefits. Leadership in Action, 29(1), 17-20.

  • Heilman, M. E., & Martell, R. F. (1986). Exposure to successful women: Antidote to sex discrimination in applicant screening decisions? Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 37(3), 376-390.

  • Helmer, E., Hjlmner, T., & Stener, F. (2010). Female career development. Lambert Acadeic Publishing.

  • Horvath, L. K., & Sczesny, S. (2016). Reducing women’s lack of fit with leadership positions? Effects of the wording of job advertisements. European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology, 25(2), 316-328.

  • Javadi, D., Vega, J., Etienne, C., Wandira, S., Doyle, Y., & Nishtar, S. (2016). Women who lead: Successes and challenges of five health leaders. Health Systems & Reform, 2(3), 229-240.

  • Jodl, K. M., Michael, A., Malanchuk, O., Eccles, J. S., & Sameroff, A. (2001). Parents’ roles in shaping early adolescents’ occupational aspirations. Child Development, 72(4), 1247-1265.

  • Kabir, S. L. (2013). Key issues in women’s representation in bureaucracy: Lessons from South Asia. Public Organization Review, 13(4), 427-442.

  • Kapur, R. (2019). Challenges experienced by women employees in career development in India. ACTA Scientific Women’s Health, 1(4), 26-36.

  • Khallad, Y. (2000). Education and career aspirations of Palestinian and U.S. youth. The Journal of Social Psychology, 140(6), 78-791.

  • Mangubhai, J. P., & Capraro, C. (2015). ‘Leave no one behind’ and the challenge of intersectionality: Christian aid’s experience of working with single and Dalit women in India. Gender & Development, 23(2), 261-277.

  • Maphunye, K. (2007). Towards redressing historical inequities? Public Management Review, 8(2), 297-311.

  • McGrath, C., Palmgren, P. J., & Liljedahl, M. (2019). Twelve tips for conducting qualitative research interviews. Medical Teacher, 41(9), 1002-1006.

  • Menon, N. (2015). A critical view on intersectionality from India is feminism about “women”? Economic & Political Weekly, 50(17).

  • Mirza, H. S. (2018). Decolonizing higher education: Black feminism and the intersectionality of race and gender. Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 7(Fall), 1-12.

  • Misra, P. K., & Singh, G. (2018). Indian women’s leadership in the government sector. In R. Ghosh & G. N. McLean, Indian women in leadership (pp. 171-189). Springer International Publishing.

  • Mohapatra, H. (2015). Status of women in Indian society. Quest Journals Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Science, 3(6), 33-36.

  • Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Sage Publications.

  • Mythili, N. (2017). Representation of women in school leadership positions in India (NUEPA Occasional Paper 51). National University of Educational Planning and Administration.

  • Naff, K. C. (2001). To look like America: Dismantling barriers for women and minorities in government. Westview Press.

  • Number of countries where the de facto highest position of executive power was held by a woman from 1960 to 2022*. (n.d.). Statista.

  • Patel, P. C., Lenka, S., & Parida, V. (2020). Caste-based discrimination, Microfinance credit scores, and microfinance loan approvals among females in India. Business & Society, 000765032098260.

  • Patton, M. Q. (2002). Two decades of developments in qualitative inquiry: A personal, experiential perspective. Qualitative Social Work, 1(3), 261-283.

  • Phelan, J., & Rudman, L. (2010). Prejudice toward female leaders: Backlash effects and women’s impression management dilemma. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 807-820.

  • Pinto, J. (2007). Women in engineering. PACE - Process and Control Engineering, 60(7), 10.

  • Player, A., Randsley de Moura, G., Leite, A. C., Abrams, D., & Tresh, F. (2019). Overlooked leadership potential: The preference for leadership potential in job candidates who are men vs. women. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, Article 755.

  • Poltera, J., & Schreiner, J. (2019). Problematising women’s leadership in the African context. Agenda, 33(1), 9-20.

  • Posholi, M. R. (2013). An examination of factors affecting career advancement of women into senior positions in selected parastatals in Lesotho. African Journal of Business Management, 7(35), 3343-3357.

  • Purkayastha, B. (2012). Intersectionality in a transnational world. Gender & Society, 26(1), 55-66.

  • Quesenberry, J. L., Trauth, E. M., & Morgan, A. J. (2006). Understanding the “mommy tracks”: A framework for analyzing work-family balance in the IT workforce. Information Resources Management Journal, 19(2), 37-53.

  • Raja, B. I. (2016). Social factors and women’s career advancement to senior management position in Pakistan. Asia Pacific Journal of Contemporary Education and Communication Technology, 2(1), 134-145.

  • Raman, K. R. (2020). Can the Dalit woman speak? How ‘intersectionality’ helps advance postcolonial organization studies. Organization, 27(2), 272-290.

  • Saadin, I., Ramli, K., Johari, H., & Harin, N. (2016). Women and barriers for upward career advancement – A survey at Perak State Secretariat, Ipoh, Perak. Procedia Economics and Finance, 35, 574-581.

  • Sanchez-Hucles, J. V., & Davis, D. D. (2010). Women and women of color in leadership: Complexity, identity and intersectionality. American Psychologist, 65(3), 171-181.

  • Senior, C., Howard, C., & Senior, R. (2014). The future and the female academic leader: Advancing student engagement. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 377.

  • Sharma, S. [Sakshi], & Kaur, R. (2019). Glass ceiling for women and work engagement: The moderating effect of marital status: FIIB Business Review, 8(2), 132-146.

  • Sharma, S. [Shantanu]. (2020). Missing at the top: Why aren’t there more women bureaucrats at the top? The Economics Times.

  • Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22, 63-75.

  • Sinkovics, R. R., Penz, E., & Ghauri, P. N. (2008). Enhancing the trustworthiness of qualitative research in international business. Management International Review, 48, 689-714.

  • Slaughter, A.-M. (2012, July). Why women still can’t have it all. The Atlantic.

  • Smith, M., & Wrynn, A. M. (2010). Women in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games: An Analysis of Participation and Leadership Opportunities (A Women’s Sports Foundation Research Report). Women’s Sports Foundation.

  • Stam, D., van Knippenberg, D., Wisse, B., & Nederveen Pieterse, A. (2018). Motivation in words: Promotion- and prevention-oriented leader communication in times of crisis. Journal of Management, 44(7), 2859-2887.

  • Straub, C. (2007). A comparative analysis of the use of work-life balance practices in Europe Do practices enhance females’ career advancement? Women in Management Review, 22(4), 289-304.

  • Turban, S., Wu, D., & Zhang, L. (2019, February 11). Research: When gender diversity makes firms more productive. Harward Business Review.

  • Valk, R., & Srinivasan, V. (2011). Work-family balance of Indian women software professionals: A qualitative study. IIMB Management Review, 23(1), 39-50.

  • Vasavada, T. (2012). A cultural feminist perspective on leadership in non-profit organisations: A case of women leaders in India. Public Administration Quarterly, 36(4), 462-503.

  • Viewport. (2019). Second careers of women professionals. Avtar.

  • Watkins, M. B., Simmons, A., & Umphress, E. (2019). It’s not black and white: Toward a contingency perspective on the consequences of being a token. Academy of Management Perspectives, 33(3), 334-365.

  • Weick, K. E. (2007). The generative properties of richness. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 14-19.

  • World Economic Forum. (2020). Insight Report Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

  • Yin, R. K. (2013). Case study research: Design and methods. SAGE Publications.

  • Yukl, G. A. (2006). Leadership in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Recent Articles