Comparative Essay – Empress Wu Zetian of China and Pharaoh Hatshepsut of Egypt

The two leaders who have been chosen for analysis and comparison in this paper are the Empress Wu Zetian of China and the Pharaoh Hatshepsut of Egypt. Even though it has been a Chinese belief that having a woman rule is completely unnatural, a woman known as Wu Zetian did rule in the Tang dynasty between 690 and 705 AD (Rothschild, 2005). In the Chinese history, Wu Zetian is the only female who once ruled as an emperor. Pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled Egypt between 1478 and 1458 BC. While different Pharaohs have ruled Egypt for thousands of years, the Pharaoh Hatshepsut deserves a special recognition as a great ruler of the country (Wilson, 2006). During their reigns as rulers, Wu Zetian and Pharaoh Hatshepsut brought about numerous changes in China and Egypt respectively which are still of great relevance in modern history.

Wu Zetian ascended to power at a time when women were given relative freedom, a time when women were no longer required to lead submissive lives. This is the time when women in China were given an opportunity to contribute in areas related to politics and culture. It is because of the freedom of women in society that Wu Zetian was able to go to school and participate in politics which facilitated her recruitment to the court of Emperor (Rothschild, 2005). On the contrary, Pharaoh Hatshepsut ascended to power in a time when women were expected to remain submissive and play kitchen roles. For instance, between 1478 and 1458 BC, Egyptian women were greatly valued in marriage due to their ability to bake bread and cake. Pharaoh Hatshepsut still managed to maintain power despite the fact that women were not viewed as rulers in Egypt.

Wu was a transformational leader witnessed in her achievements, but was also ruthless in the manner in which she tried to achieve power. For instance, Wu’s ruthless method of ruling is evident when she killed her relatives to take advantage of her position. Pharaoh Hatshepsut did not use ruthless method of ruling but she was a transformational leader like Wu, demonstrated in her numerous achievements when was the ruler of Egypt. Hatshepsut was also a very authoritative ruler who was able to maintain power for more than 20 years (Wilson, 2006).

As transformational leaders, both Wu and Hatshepsut built new projects as a way of giving their countries a completely new image. For instance, Zetian laid great emphasis on development of agricultural projects. She worked very hard to ensure successful construction of irrigation schemes in China. Additionally, Wu evaluated local officials in terms of their abilities to cultivate land and struggled to ensure that the Chinese citizens benefited from the agricultural projects. Wu’s resourcefulness was demonstrated by her ability to implement new ideas in agriculture. For example she assisted peasant farmers to increase their produce which benefited the entire Chinese population (Rothschild, 2005). Similarly, Hatshepsut pushed for the development of agricultural projects in the ancient Egypt, both in the Lower and Upper parts of the county. Various irrigations schemes in ancient Egypt were constructed following Hatshepsut’s efforts. From these projects, Egyptian farmers could easily water their crops which ensured a constant supply of farm produce in the country (Wilson, 2006).

Both Wu and Hatshepsut appointed powerful people to help them accomplish various tasks during their reigns. For example, both leaders were eager to draw into their governments only talented and competent people. Wu even initiated the practice of interviewing candidates for personality characteristics before allowing them to work in her government. Wu even initiated the practice of interviewing candidates for personality characteristics before allowing them to work in her government. However, when compared with Wu, Hatshepsut’s reign was more prosperous than that of Wu. For example, Hatshepsut re-established trade relations in Egypt which helped to bring great wealth to Egypt (Wilson, 2006).

Wu and Hatshepsut ruled in two separate cultures, that of ancient China and ancient Egypt respectively. The Chinese and Egyptian cultures have got some similarities and differences. For instance, the two cultures were similar in the sense that, their economies were based on agriculture. This explains why both Wu and Hatshepsut encouraged the development of agricultural projects during their reigns. In addition, both Chinese and Egyptian cultures had inherited systems of rule where Emperors and Pharaohs were viewed as absolute rulers. This is evidenced in the existence of Emperor Wu Zetian of China and the Pharaoh Hatshepsut of Egypt. The main area of difference in the Chinese and Egyptian cultures is on their religions. For example, the ancient Egyptian religion was centered on the divinity of its rulers while the ancient Chinese practiced ancestor worship (Ministry of Culture, P. R. China, 2003).

The leadership qualities of Wu and Hatshepsut are of great significance in the world of modern business, especially for those organizations that are headed by female leaders. An example of a female leader who can employ effective leadership qualities possessed by both Wu and Hatshepsut is Ellen Kullman of DuPont. Specifically, Kullman should struggle to appoint talented people to serve in various positions in the organization. In addition, she should focus on building projects that will promote organizational growth. Kullman must also respect the rights of employees at all times.

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