Women, according to Fisher, have a natural advantage in "web thinking." She and others believe that women have a greater tendency than men to take a holistic, contextual view of any issue at hand, considering a web of interrelated factors, instead of compartmentalizing problems and assessing their linear cause-effect components. For example, Fisher writes in The First Sex, "women generally look at individual social problems, such as drug abuse or teen pregnancy, and link them to broader, deeper social ills."
The rise of so many female leaders shouldn't surprise. Business Week magazine recently conducted a survey of management studies and came to this conclusion: "After years of analyzing what makes leaders most effective and figuring out who's got the Right Stuff, management gurus now know how to boost the odds of getting a great executive: Hire a female." It quoted Harvard Business School Prof. Rosabeth Moss Kanter: "Women get high ratings on exactly those skills needed to succeed in the global information age, where teamwork and partnering are so important."
Whether that is true in every case remains debatable. Carly Fiorina, a poster girl of women CEOs, has recently been struggling at Hewlett-Packard. Her supporters say that no one, man or woman, could do better at reinventing the company. Meanwhile, other women are flourishing as leaders in nontraditional roles. Entrepreneur Donna Dubinsky cofounded Palm, the hand-held computing giant, then left and cofounded its highly successful rival, Handspring. By her mid-40s, she had created two companies with a total market value of more than $37 billion. In Arizona, women have been elected to the top spots in state gov- ernment. In North Carolina, women are winning high marks as leaders of three of the state's most prestigious universities: Duke, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State.