Leadership in the 21st Century

Did you know that there are more CEO’s named John than female CEO’s? Although women comprise 51% of the world population, they represent a minority in leadership positions. Why is this still an issue in today’s supposedly modern society?

Course level
Master, PhD candidates and professionals from all disciplines
Session 2
11 January to 18 January 2020 
Coordinating lecturer                                     Sofia Schlamp
Other lecturers
2 senior leaders from Royal Dutch Shell
Form(s) of instructionLectures and practical programming sessions
Form(s) of assessmentInteractive Seminar
Practical Assignment
ECTS3 credits
Contact hours35 hours
Tuition fee

€800 - non-VU students and staff

€500 - VU students and staff

This course is suitable for Master students or PhD candidates seeking to understand the depths within professionalism as it pertains to gender, and practical means to close the gender gap within leadership roles. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please contact us: graduatewinterschool@vu.nl.
Are you aware that 17% of leadership is explained by genetics? What does this mean to the ‘are leaders born or made?’ discussion? Do you know that employees feel more stressed when they have sporadically unfair rather than consistently unfair leaders? Why do people elect bad leaders?
During this course, students will engage with leadership in theory and in practice. From a theoretical perspective, we will approach this topic from different angles: leadership as a trait or as a behavior, effectiveness of different leadership styles, leadership and culture, leadership and gender, etc.
Some of the questions we will discuss are: Are leaders born or made? How are individuals with leadership potential identified? How can we develop leaders? What is the glass ceiling? Do men and women have different leadership styles? What leadership traits will be needed in the future?
After learning about leadership theory, we know that you will be curious to learn how this theory interplays with the real practice. For instance, what are the current practices to: identify high potential employees, build a diverse leadership representation, and develop leaders. Therefore, participants will have the opportunity to learn the practice perspective by engaging in discussions with senior leaders at the largest-revenue European company, Royal Dutch Shell.

This is a unique opportunity to learn about the leadership theory and understand its overall impact in a global company like Shell.
Learning Objectives


Excursion to the Headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell to have lunch and a discussion session with senior leaders.

This “Leadership in the 21st Century” course has the following learning objectives:
•    To be knowledgeable of a wide range of research-based leadership theories;
•    To understand how leadership research is implemented in practice;
•    To gain unique business insights on how leaders are identified, recruited, and developed;
•    To equip you with the knowledge to understand what are and aren’t ‘Leadership Myths’;
•    To reflect on your own leadership style, and how you want to further upscale it.
Browne, K. R. (1998). An evolutionary account of women's workplace status. Managerial and decision Economics, 19(7‐8), 427-440.

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

Hyde, J. S. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581–592.

Lyness, K. S., & Grotto, A. R. (2018). Women and Leadership in the United States: Are We Closing the Gender Gap? Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 5, 227-265.

Martin, A. E., & Phillips, K. W. (2017). What “blindness” to gender differences helps women see and do: Implications for confidence, agency, and action in male-dominated environments. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 142, 28-44.


Sofia Schlamp has over 5 years of experience studying Leadership. Originally from Argentina, she did her Bachelors in Psychology in Germany, where she started doing research and writing articles on Ethical Leadership, and Age & Leadership. After completing her Bachelors, she moved to Netherlands to pursue her Masters in Organizational Psychology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she broadened her scope to Leadership Effectiveness, and Leadership Emergence.

Alongside her role in Shell, she decided to continue her involvement in research by doing a PhD on Leadership, where her main focus is to understand how the hierarchical structure of organizations impacts the number of women in leadership positions.