With regards to leadership, women take the lead over men... until it comes to their confidence.

According to a study by Korn Ferry, female leaders score highly in other aspects of leadership, including employee engagement, customer satisfaction and building talent.

However, their lack of confidence is causing women to miss out on experiences "their male counterparts seek out during mid-level and business unit level roles".

“Women need to seek out and say ‘yes’ to experiences that stretch their skills and organisations need to provide women with opportunities to accept those challenges earlier in their careers,”  J. Evelyn Orr, senior director of the Korn Ferry Institute and editor of Korn Ferry’s research on women in leadership, said.

The research revealed women are either not being offered such opportunities or are turning them down.

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The shortage of female leaders is most prevalent in India, where only 9% of mid-to-senior management roles are filled by women. Across Asia, the average is slightly higher at 25%.

On top of the obvious diversity benefit having more female leaders would bring, it will also drive better financial return, the report said.

So how can companies encourage more women to strive for positions at the top?

“We recommend focusing on three key areas: Motivations - discern the individual motivators for high potential women; experiences, [which] offer women the right skill-building and high-visibility challenges; and lastly, relationships. Women need access to executives through mentoring and networking,” Alicia Yi, Korn Ferry senior client partner, said.

“The glass ceiling is real, but so are the tools that women and organisations have at their disposal to break those barriers.”

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