Andrea J. Gage, Shelly Mumma, Susan Fritz 10.12806/V3/I2/TF3
Over the last two decades researchers have come to realize that gender equality in leadership may be a fallacy. However, many researchers seem to disregard this reality when setting up their research questions. Deciphering the role of gender within leadership has led to the creation of gender leadership theories. An analysis of four popular theories regarding gender and leadership will be discussed in the following pages.
The four theories selected were based on their ties with gender and leadership. While some theories were researched primarily on leadership alone, the implications can guide future research in gender and sex roles. The first theory discussed in the paper is Social Role Theory which explains how each gender becomes focused on whatever types of roles are available to them based on societal expectations. These sex roles outlined by society and taken on by individuals may or may not have leadership dimensions. The second, Implicit Leadership Theory, refers to an individual’s internal leadership traits. These traits determine a person’s definition of leadership and ways one chooses to apply personal leadership ideas to the world. While not focused on carrying out the leadership roles, Implicit Leadership Theory is based upon behavioral actions later on. The third theory discussed will be Attribution Theory. It focuses on how people place leadership traits onto one another. This theory deals more with expectations, stereotypes, and the projection of those influences onto others. The last theory discussed in the paper is the Leader Emergence Theory. While the other theories target many of the psychological aspects of sex roles, this theory looks at the actual behaviors that are manifested and how leadership roles are carried out or emerge within a group setting.
The inter-relatedness of these four theories in reference to the topics of gender and leadership may have been previously overshadowed since the theories stem from different academic disciplines, yet each seems to be a key piece of the leadership gender puzzle. While Implicit Leadership Theory targets the more internal aspects of the self and how an individual views his or her role in society, Attribution and Social Role Theory focus on the very important factor of societal expectations. It is through these two theories that a closer look will be conducted to consider the impact that society has on each gender and the roles that individuals choose to assume. Leadership Emergence Theory ties internal and external influences into a person’s behavioral pattern and helps to determine how an individual carries out leadership roles.
Social Role Theory
As defined by Eagly (1998), Social Role Theory is the concept that men and women occupy whatever social role society makes available to their sex. On the basis of an individual’s identified sex, these roles are defined by the set stereotypes an individual and society have as acceptable behaviors. Gender stereotypes, social pressure, and social structure come into play as an individual determines individual social behavior. Yet it is through observing social behaviors that each of us, as members of society, identifies our own sex roles and gender differences in the family, group or work settings. Therefore, social gender behavior is inextricably linked to Social Role Theory research.
Gender is a factor that has been studied for decades. During the 1970s, public debate brought many of the gender stereotypes to the surface, and while findings of sex similarities in the 1980s held constant, so did the beliefs and stereotypes of the general population (Eagly, 1987). Throughout the 1990s more theoretical debates took place concerning the roles of women and men in the workplace.
Policies affecting affirmative action came into being. Despite the debate and policy formulation and enforcement, today research still concludes that occupational gender segregation continues to occur. This segregation excludes women and minorities from access to the networks that can provide them support for career advancement (Murrell, 2001).
Gender roles can be divided into two main characteristics: agentic or communal. Agentic characteristics tend to be seen as assertiveness, controlling, aggressiveness, and independence. Those who are competitive, self-confident, dominant, and influential are categorized as having agentic traits. Men are primarily the individuals assumed to possess agentic qualities and, thus the roles that are tied to these traits are deemed masculine.
Communal characteristics tend to be seen as caring, nurturing, helpful, gentle, and kind. Those who are sympathetic, sensitive, affectionate, and democratic are categorized as having communal traits. Women are primarily the individuals assumed to possess these communal characteristics and, thus roles that are tied to these traits are deemed feminine (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).
The understanding of these characteristics is important because society uses gender as the basis for identity in determining roles at home, within organizations, and the workplace. However, in some instances this gender stereotype can conflict with other roles that an individual is trying to fulfill. For example, people tend to equate success with agentic behavior, and, therefore, will not necessarily associate a female who uses communal qualities as successful in the business world. Despite the fact that she is equally effective, using a different approach is not always accepted. This lack of association is due to two main prejudices: leadership is viewed as a male stereotype and agentic behavior is not seen as desirable in women (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). Eagly and Johannesen- Schmidt explain further that the first prejudice stems from descriptive norms or the activation of descriptive beliefs ascribed to female stereotypes which points out the conflict between leadership ideas and female stereotypes. They also define the second prejudice as stemming from injunctive or prescriptive norms or the belief people apply to how females ought to behave. These internalized behavior expectancies of people define how followers respond to leaders, how leaders select their leadership styles, and how people respond to gender no matter what role the individual fills. For women, a “no win” situation is created. According to Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, if they conform to their gender role, they are failing their leadership role requirements, and if they adhere to their leadership role, they can fail because they are not meeting the expectations of their gender role.
The results of these conflicting expectations are barriers. Their existence may explain why women are underrepresented in power positions. When studying women in law firms, Ely (1994) found that in male-dominated firms, the junior women perceived that being female was incompatible with power and status within the organization. “Junior women would either see senior women as lacking in power and, therefore, not ‘legitimately senior,’ or they would see them as having obtained their positions by acting like men rather than women (Murrell, 2001, p. 4).” This type of social structure is one of the biggest influences on social behavior not only in the opposite sex, but in the same sex as well. How will the junior female attorneys proceed in career advancement based on these findings?
Perhaps primarily through non-performance based means such as lateral transfers, downward movements or company changes “boundaryless careers” can be created. The social structure reveals that men who have made these changes find positive flexibility while women have discovered more negative career impacts such as part-time work and salary declines (Murrell, 2001). Although each of the sexes are motivated by self-interest, fulfilling that need is acceptable as an agentic trait, but not as a communal one. Similarly, men may not be supportive of females entering more agentic occupations since their own male leadership may be challenged (Loo, 1998).
The understanding of agentic and communal qualities helps to define and explain leadership styles and human characteristics. Further explanation of social influence through Implicit Theory and Attribution Theory shows how this socialization process of understanding gender roles is carried out internally and externally within individuals. The quantifiable results can be seen in the research that measures leader emergence and social behavior.
“Research has consistently demonstrated that human observers possess enduring beliefs concerning the covariance among traits and behaviors, a phenomenon labeled implicit personality theories in the 1950’s” (Phillips & Lord, 1986, p. 33). Similar thinking has since been applied in the leadership field. Implicit leadership theories have been viewed as a specific example of a general cognitive categorization process applied to social stimuli (Phillips & Lord, 1986). Implicit Leadership Theories (ILTs) are similar to the categorization schemas that help observers simplify both the input and output of information (Phillips & Lord, 1986).
Kraus and Gemmill (1990) studied consideration and initiating structure behaviors as components of implicit leadership theories. Leadership effectiveness was rated more highly in a scenario that described more consideration-based behavior than initiating structure behavior. Participants believed that high performance outcomes are attributable more to a leader who initiates structure than to a leader who shows consideration. While their study drew no conclusions based on gender, it was interesting that the participant sample was predominantly female undergraduate psychology students and that 85.3% of them believed the leader, “Chris Percy” was a male even though the name is seemingly androgynous. This gender assumption alone makes a statement about implicit leadership theories. The researchers believed that leadership effectiveness and attributed responsibility were related, but the inconsistency in the effects of leadership style on these two variables points to possible conceptual distinctions that should be researched further.
In another study that looked at undergraduate students’ implicit leadership theories, women consistently attached significantly greater importance to all determinants (Singer, 2001). This was interpreted to mean that for women, being an effective leader requires both higher dispositional qualities (e.g. personality traits, intelligence, and competence) and more favorable work conditions. Also, women’s ratings were significantly higher than men’s on attributions to competence, subordinate support, and organizational characteristics. A third finding was that women had more stringent criteria for defining leadership. The researcher drew no conclusions based on these findings. It would be important to determine how dispositional qualities are related to self-efficacy. Do women who believe being an effective leader requires more favorable work conditions need to have those conditions established or can they create them as effective leaders?
Related to favorable work conditions, Wayne, Liden and Sparrowe (1994) suggest that gender stereotypes may play a role in the development of quality leader- member exchanges, specifically with regard to job-related information. Kenney, Blascovich and Shaver (1994) asked subjects what characteristics a new leader should exhibit if he or she is to be accepted by a group. They conducted three studies to arrive at some common definitions. The first study identified traits and behaviors expected of new leaders worthy of followers’ acceptance. The second allowed subjects to rate how well each example fit more general behavioral categories. And the third allowed subjects to sort the examples into whatever number of more general categories they chose. The researchers discovered that “being fair” was considered most representative of the entire set of behaviors presented to subjects for the new-leader scenario. The researchers concluded that being fair lies at the heart of the many behaviors that help a new leader achieve acceptance by a group (Kenney, et al., 1994).
Although the researchers drew no conclusions based on gender, fairness appeared universal. Moral development theories assert that people make meaning of their world in two very different ways. Kohlberg’s justice orientation focused on morality and understanding rights and rules (as cited in Evans, Forney, & Guido- DiBrito, 1998). His studies only used men as subjects and the studies that were used by Kenney, et al. (1994) had predominantly men as the subjects. Based on Gilligan’s (1993) findings that women tend to have more of a “care orientation” that appears as an attachment to others, would a subject group of predominantly women feel the same way? Kenney, et al. (1994) also suggests that people’s ILTs change over time, as their work history with a particular leader grows.
Implicit Leadership Theories, or any behavioral-based theory, can be difficult to measure because sometimes the variables seem immeasurable or there is bias from rater knowledge of ratee performance, lenient evaluations from superiors or sex of raters (Phillips & Lord, 1986). Additionally, an important component of ILTs is followers’ willingness to be influenced by the leader although there is lack of a direct, empirical study addressing this relationship (Kenney, et al., 1994). Their proposition is supported by the work of Wayne et al., (1994) which asserts members with same-sex leaders would be more likely to develop high quality exchanges than members with opposite sex leaders.
Some of the studies mentioned above had design flaws that limited the ability to define outcomes. Many authors considered gender an afterthought demographic that did not impact their conclusions. In order to ascertain solid findings, gender must be a primary factor in research studies. In studies where even numbers of men and women were involved, authors determined final decisions could not be made based on gender. Other studies that had uneven numbers of men and women did not draw any conclusions based on gender differences. These studies did not acknowledge that gender differences could have affected the results or been study limitations since they were not primary criteria.
From an attribution perspective, leadership is viewed not as a property of leaders, but as a causal attribution constructed by observers to explain behavior or events believed to be representative of leadership (Kraus & Gemmill, 1990). Attribution theory attempts to explain different reactions in terms of situational factors and a leader’s cognitive processes. The situational factors can be either internal (lack of effort) or external (resources were inadequate). The attribution made by a manager influences a response to a problem. Many managers tend to be biased toward making internal attributions about poor performance, and this leads to greater use of punitive responses directed at the subordinate (Yukl, 1989).
A number of studies have revealed that gender has been associated with differential ratings of elected officials’ job performance of identical tasks at identical levels of achievement (Mend, Bell & Bath, 1976). In a study of political candidates, research examined the attribution of traditional sex-typed leadership traits to real candidates by a small sample of voters exposed to their campaigns. The study confirmed that women candidates have to present themselves as both “male” and “female” to satisfy voters’ expectations (Alexander & Andersen, 1993). A voter’s allegiance to “traditional” or “egalitarian” sex-role norms may have an important impact on how candidates are perceived. The researchers concluded that voters still believe that male and female candidates possess distinct skills and capabilities. By large margins, women were believed to be more compassionate, moral, hardworking, and liberal. Women, more so than their male counterparts, were also thought to have struggled to get ahead, be able to handle family responsibilities while serving in office, speak out honestly, and stand up for what they believe. Men, on the other hand, were believed to be tougher, more able to handle a crisis, more emotionally stable, more decisive, and more conservative, although the percentage margins were narrower for the “male advantaged” capabilities than the margins for “female advantaged” traits.
One of the patterns that emerged in this study (Alexander & Anderson, 1993) was that 11 incumbents, both male and female, were rated more positively on both masculine and feminine scales than were their challengers. In a race where the candidates were relatively unfamiliar to the voters, the candidates were perceived as having gender-specific attributes. Voters who were considered “moderates” tended to stereotype male candidates but not female candidates, and the voters characterized as “egalitarians” saw a state senate race in stereotypical terms: a traditionally “male” candidate running against a female candidate with traditional feminine attributes. Another conclusion was that the candidate may matter more than one’s gender role beliefs. All voter groups ranked the well-known candidate high on both masculine and feminine traits. This may result in serious implications concerning how women initially run for office to capture the vote and later how they may need to change their strategy for re-election.
Another study linked appearance with attributions of leadership (Cherulnik, Turns, & Wilderman, 1990). Photos were selected from a high school yearbook, where approximately half were classified as leaders and the other half classified as non-leaders based on the activities listed in the yearbook. Copies of the photos were shown to undergraduate students who rated them on physical attractiveness, facial maturity, judgment of leadership status, and trait attributions. Both male and female leaders were rated more attractive than their non-leader counterparts. However, the difference was greater for male targets than for female targets. Male targets were judged to be leaders more often than females, although both male and female leaders were judged to look like leaders more often than their non-leader counterparts.
The researchers (Cherulnik, et al., 1990) grouped adjectives into five clusters: Competence (dull, clever, and intelligent), Dominance (persuasive, dominating, and submissive), Honesty (sincere, honest, and untrustworthy), Warmth (cold, friendly, and outgoing), and Shrewdness (gullible, shrewd, and cunning). Male targets were more often described as competent, dominant, honest and warm than non-leaders, while female targets were described significantly more often as competent, dominant and shrewd. Leaders were characterized more favorably than non-leaders regardless of sex, although there was a significant result showing that the leaders’ advantage in trait favorability was greater among male targets.
Cherulnik’s, et al. (1990) findings suggest that leader-like attributions depend on whether the leader’s appearance supports stereotypes which overlap with schemata for leadership and it may be difficult to maximize leader effectiveness if leaders are appointed without considering group members’ perceptions of candidates’ suitability.
While these studies use biological sex as a primary criterion, there still is a great need to look at attribution related to sex and/or gender. Very little has been done to look at how people attribute qualities to leaders. These studies suggest that they may be less likely to attribute positive qualities of leadership to women, both in small groups and societally, as seen in political elections.
Leader Emergence Theory
Emergent team leaders hold no formal authority and team member willingness to follow their lead can end at any time. In the past, researchers have found that males emerge over females as leaders when a gender-neutral task is used (Nyquist & Spence, 1986). Others have found that women are slightly more likely to emerge as leaders when a feminine task is used, but still not more likely than men (Carbonell, 1984). Wentworth and Anderson (1984) determined that women must be seen as experts to be perceived as leaders. Possessing stereotypical masculine characteristics is beneficial and the possession of stereotypical feminine characteristics may be detrimental to leader emergence. In a synthesis of 58 studies, Karau and Eagly (1999) found a small to moderate sized tendency for men to emerge as leaders more than women, and a somewhat larger tendency for men to emerge as leaders when leadership was defined in strictly task-oriented terms. There was also a small tendency for women to emerge more then men as social leaders. The meta-analysis revealed the tendency for men to emerge was stronger when groups worked on tasks that were stereotypically masculine and on tasks that did not require complex social interaction. Plus, male emergence was weaker when leadership was assessed after a longer period of time.
Sapp, Harrod, and Zhao (1996) put together a task with egalitarian gender roles with the expectation that it would level the playing field for the women as emergent leaders. They hypothesized that greater task resources – formal education, prior knowledge of topic, and self-efficacy – would increase verbal task participation and leadership emergence. They found that males still engaged in significantly greater verbal task participation and received significantly more mentions for best arguments.
Kolb (1997) examined four different gender roles related to leadership. In addition to masculine and feminine styles, she looked at androgynous and undifferentiated styles. Androgynous leadership style is one that incorporates high levels of both masculine and feminine characteristics. Undifferentiated leadership style is one that incorporates low levels of both masculine and feminine characteristics. “The set of traits and behaviors currently labeled as masculine (e.g., self-reliant, independent, assertive, has leadership abilities, willing to take risks, makes decisions easily, dominant, willing to take a stand, acts as a leader, ambitious, and self-sufficient) has been found as recently as 1994 to correlate significantly with leader emergence” (p. 377). Kolb found no difference in either self or group-reported assessments of leader emergence attributable to the biological sex of those being assessed. She also found that individuals classified as masculine had significantly higher scores on leader emergence than individuals classified as feminine, but only on self-reported leader emergence scales. Masculinity was significantly correlated with both self-reported leader emergence and group-related leader emergence. Femininity was not significantly related to either measure of leader emergence. Attitude toward leadership and experience in leadership also were significantly correlated with both self-reported and group-reported leader emergence.
Experience in and attitude toward leadership were significantly correlated with the masculinity scale and masculinity was the strongest predictor for self-reported leader emergence (Kolb, 1997). Kolb indicated that females described themselves as taking charge with greater frequency than did males. Males were, however, described by group members as contributing ideas, suggestions, and opinions with greater frequency than were females. “There were no significant differences between males and females for the other categories (being task-oriented; soliciting ideas; suggestions and opinions; working well with others; demonstrating knowledge and experience; or being domineering)” (p. 386). The combined masculine and androgynous group members described themselves more frequently as demonstrating knowledge and having experience, while feminine and undifferentiated group members were described by others as soliciting input with greater frequency (Kolb, 1997). None of the nine leaders classified as feminine described themselves as demonstrating knowledge and experience, but 100% of these leaders were described by group members as exhibiting this behavior.
In a different article, Kolb (1999) states that androgynous and masculine individuals did not score significantly higher than those classified as feminine or undifferentiated on a measure of self-confidence. This seems contradictory to the finding above that indicates no feminine leaders described themselves as demonstrating knowledge and experience while 100% of those leaders were described by group members as exhibiting these behaviors. Although, in that same study, self-confidence correlated more highly with masculinity than did any other variable. Masculine and androgynous individuals were more likely to be identified as preferred leaders than people with undifferentiated or feminine characteristics.
In a study conducted by Goktepe and Schneier (1988), they found that neither the emergent leader’s sex nor gender role influenced the effectiveness evaluations that they received from the non-leaders in their groups. Individuals with androgynous gender role orientations gave significantly higher ratings than individuals with masculine, feminine or undifferentiated gender role orientations. This suggests that those participants who had androgynous gender role orientations may relate better to leaders of any gender role orientation. Another variable studied by Goktepe and Schneier found that regardless of sex, individuals with masculine gender role orientations emerged as leaders within groups significantly more often than those with feminine, androgynous or undifferentiated gender roles. They also observed an association between interpersonal attractiveness and leader emergence, but a causal link was not established (Goktepe & Schneier, 1989). If this study were replicated today, would a causal link be established?
Sapp, Harrod, and Zhao (1996) suggest their findings may indicate a need for women to emulate traditionally defined masculine behavior within task-oriented groups so as to be evaluated favorably with respect to traditional conceptions of leadership. The researchers recognize that the characteristics that are typically masculine – authoritarianism, dominance, task-orientation – do not necessarily make one an effective leader. Therefore, women emulating traditionally masculine behavior may not improve evaluations of female leadership style.
Karau and Eagly (1999) predict that men should be less likely to emerge as leaders when leaders are chosen after extensive interaction with the group, because people are less likely to rely on gender stereotypes when they have acquired specific, individuating information about other group members. They also purport that Kolb’s (1999) finding that masculinity was significantly correlated with leadership ratings is consistent with Social Role Theory. Thus, individuals that engage in agentic behaviors consistent with leader stereotypes are more likely to be chosen as leaders (Karau & Eagly, 1999).
Our social role theory analysis suggests that women aspiring to leadership roles will often face a double bind. If they engage predominantly in the communal behaviors expected from women, these behaviors may be perceived as incongruent with appropriate leadership. If they engage predominantly in the agentic behaviors expected from leaders, these behaviors will be perceived as incongruent with the behaviors expected from women. (Karau & Eagly, 1999, p. 326)
In a study by Hegstrom and Griffith (1992), males did not report an initial desire to be leaders more than females, males did not offer to be leaders more than female partners, and females did not nominate their male partners more frequently than women were nominated by male partners. However, men still became leaders more often than women. In mixed-sex dyads where they had equal dominance, the proportion of males that emerged as leaders was greater than the proportion of females. These results have not changed much since similar studies in 1969 by Megargee. This suggests that either women will not seek such positions of leadership, or that they will not be allowed to assume such positions (Hegstrom & Griffith, 1992).
Another sociologically based model, Expectation States Theory, considers the beliefs associated with traditional societal or occupational roles held by men and women (Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999). This theory says that it is the power and prestige that men have traditionally held in the roles they have occupied that act as the sources of societal belief of greater relative competence. The implication is that these differences in external status are used by group members to form initial expectations about the relative competencies of individuals working on a group task (Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999). The study found that a group member whose gender is incongruent with the perceived gender orientation of the group’s task would exhibit lower levels of emergent leader behavior in the group compared with their counterparts who performed a gender-congruent task. The results support the view that perceptions of expertise that are influenced by the gendered nature of the task can generate important consequences regarding the patterns of leadership in the group. The research indicated that being in the numerical minority position does not automatically result in withdrawn behavior, particularly when the individual is viewed as possessing relative expertise on the group’s task, that is, when the gender of the numerical minority is congruent with the gender orientation of the group’s task.
The results of this study (Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999) also provide support for the assertion that the impact of congruence or incongruence with the gender orientation of the task differs among men and women in the numerical minority, majority, and balanced positions. Being in the numerical majority position appears to reduce the adverse effects of incongruence with the gender orientation of the task, a consequence observed in the numerical minority. Decrements in leadership behavior were not as pronounced for men and women who performed gender-incongruent tasks while in the numerical majority in a group (Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999).
Karakowsky and Siegel’s (1999) research did have some limitations. First, their experimental design could not overcome the lack of independence among participants. The behavior of a target participant can clearly be influenced by the behavior of his or her peers in the group. Second, the groups had very short life spans. Perceptions of expertise can vary as group members become more familiar with the abilities of their coworkers (Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999). This is supported by Berger, Conner and Fisek’s (1974) research on Expectation States Theory that asserts that direct information about competence has a greater impact on expectations and behavior than inferences about competence (as cited in Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999).
Another difference noted by researchers (Butler & Geis, 1990) was that female leaders received more negative nonverbal affect responses and fewer positive responses than male leaders who offered the same suggestions and arguments. Smith-Lovin and Brody (1989) found that men discriminated by sex in speaking attempts and in yielding to interruptions by others, but women interrupted and yielded the floor to men and women equally. LaNoue and Curtis (1985) found that women in mixed-sex situations performed worse, rewarded themselves less, and attributed their poor performance to a lack of ability more than men do.
In a study conducted by Gurman and Long (1992), a group of female and male undergraduates rated themselves and the others on a leadership scale. The results showed that there were no differences in the way men and women were rated by others. The results showed no significant differences between the groups, which suggests that biological sex did not play a major role in the determination of leadership scores. Further, the relationships reported in prior research between masculinity and peer-rated leadership were not supported in this study, and, at the very least, may not be as strong as has been previously indicated.
A second study by Gurman and Long (1992) studied an all-female group. They found femininity to be correlated with the measures of self-rated leadership in all- female groups in both studies. The researchers concluded that there is a significant relationship between femininity and their measures of self-leadership when women in all-female groups rate themselves. Femininity becomes more salient because of the gender composition of the group, and thus a more important characteristic to consider.
In a study by Kent and Moss (1994), masculinity was positively and significantly correlated with both self-perceived leader emergence and group-perceived leader emergence. Femininity was not significantly related to either measure of leader emergence. The most significant result of this study was that androgynous individuals have the same chances of emerging as a leader as masculine individuals. As a result of this study, the researchers concluded several key points. First, masculinity is still an important predictor of leader emergence. Second, the emergence of androgynous leaders suggests that the possession of feminine characteristics does not decrease an individual’s chances of emerging as a leader as long as the individual also possesses masculine characteristics. Third, women are more likely to be androgynous than masculine, therefore, they may have better chances of rising to leadership status. This is due to the fact that they possess both masculine and feminine characteristics. Lastly, gender role is a better predictor of leader emergence than sex, which has been found in some of the other articles referenced in this work.
Hall, Workman and Marchioro (1998) examined some of these same issues. Their study investigated the tendency for males to be perceived (or emerge) as leaders to a greater extent than females, the impact of traditional sex-role stereotypes upon leadership perceptions, and the positive association of behavioral flexibility within leader emergence. In this study, high self-monitors appear to be more aware of which behaviors are socially appropriate for a given situation and more capable of flexibly changing their behaviors to meet the demands of that situation. However, the positive relationship of behavioral flexibility with leadership perceptions tends to be stronger for males with the caveat that in tasks requiring higher levels of initiating structure information, androgyny has a beneficial effect for females and a negative one for males. Eagly and Karau’s (1991) meta-analysis results show that men are more likely to emerge as leaders than women (across tasks) when the measures of leadership emphasize task or general aspects of leadership, while women are more likely to emerge as leaders when social measures of leadership are used (as cited in Hall, et al., 1998).
Recommendations and Implications
While seemingly simple upon first consideration, Social Role Theory is the initial step in understanding gender and leadership. Without understanding the genesis of gender and sex roles, or how these roles are communicated, the study of gender and leadership would be incomplete. Clearly, certain aspects of Social Role Theory need further research. The impact of context upon gender and leadership would help to define which environments are most conducive to agentic or communal leadership styles. The effect of age upon gender and leadership might uncover new findings with regards to men and women, and potential shifts by generation. Cross-cultural comparisons would also be beneficial in understanding racial and ethnic minorities as well as the various socialization processes used around the world. Overall, long-term analysis with full-time employees at multiple levels in the same organization would provide a better view of Social Role Theory implications for leadership within the workplace environment.
Karakowsky and Siegel (1999) suggest that future research should be conducted over long-term periods to test whether time reverses the effects of gender, gender orientation of the task, and proportional representation. They also suggest that future research should examine a more diverse range of personality factors beyond self-efficacy in communication and masculinity-femininity that could influence emergent leadership behavior. It was also suggested researchers should more fully consider what tasks tend to be gendered and the impact of this gendering on workplace behavior. These long-term studies should include addressing stereotypes of other racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as those groups defined by their sexual orientation. In future studies, gender must be a primary factor in criteria in order to draw gender-based conclusions. The aspects of leadership and gender within each of these arenas may provide insight into various leadership roles and socialization processes that have currently been overlooked.
It has been questioned whether studies of undergraduate students with little full- time work experience could be generalized to people who were full-time employees. Also, would full-time work experience replace gender orientation as a way to determine expertise in a task? In assessing the gender roles and leadership roles of individuals within an organization, do these roles change over time? If changes do take place, is it the changing of stereotypes, gender role assumptions, leadership role expectations or organizational policy that brings about this type of change? Therefore, more research needs to take place in workplace settings.
Research must also include a variety of contexts, methods (e.g., qualitative, mixed methods), and replications in order for meta-analyses to be done. The impact of age and gender within leadership roles would be another area of interesting research. Eagly, Johnannesen-Schmidt, and van Engen (2003) suggest that women more than men may increasingly turn to transformational leadership. Do similar changes happen within one’s Implicit Leadership Theory or Attribution Theory? Or, does one’s age also affect their emergence as a leader? As men and women age, do their gender roles change with regard to leadership in the home or workplace? If so, at what stage in each gender’s life cycle does this occur? Implicit leadership theories could also address the issues of sex and age of followers in relation to organizational purpose. Does the willingness of follower’s change as they age? If so, why?
Kent and Moss (1994) suggest several directions for future research. Future studies should carefully control for both the sex and gender-role composition of groups and studies should use multiple measures to assess leader emergence. If researchers continue to find that androgynous individuals emerge as leaders, future studies should assess the relative effectiveness of masculine and androgynous leaders. Studies should be designed to assess the effects of sex and gender role on leader emergence in leaderless groups in organizations. The aspect of androgynous behavior as a whole needs further consideration, definition, and research in order to determine the socialization process that creates it. Does androgyny stem from females gaining masculine traits or males assuming female traits? Which is more prevalent in the leadership role? Why?
These areas of future research could hold the key to unlocking many of the mysteries surrounding gender and leadership theory. Using the foundations of each theory, they can be combined to assess and explain how individuals take information from their environment through the socialization process (Social Role Theory) in order to internalize their gender role to create implicit theories of their own. From this knowledge the individual then takes what is determined by society to define his or her own attribution role and theory that is then, in turn, used to define how he or she chooses to emerge as a leader. Which aspect impacts each gender more – the upbringing, the societal influence, the internalization or the role expectation? Most of all, how can this information be used to better understand each gender and provide opportunities for growth, challenge, and reward within academic, societal or workplace settings?
Alexander, D., & Andersen, K. (1993). Gender as a factor in the attribution of leadership traits. Political Research Quarterly, 46(3), 527-545.
Berger, J., Conner, T. L., & Fisek, M. H. (1974). Expectation states theory: A theoretical research program. Cambridge, MA: Winthrop.
Butler, D., & Geis, F. L. (1990). Nonverbal affect responses to male and female leaders: Implications for leadership evaluations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 18-59.
Carbonell, J. L. (1984). Sex roles and leadership revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69, 44-49.
Cherulnik, P. D., Turns, L .C., & Wilderman, S. K. (1990). Physical appearance and leadership: Exploring the role of appearance-based attribution in leader emergence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 1530-1539.
Eagly, A. H. (1998, April). Gender and leadership: A review of pertinent research. Harmony: Forum of the Symphony Orchestra Institute, 6, 100-110.
Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social role interpretation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Eagly, A. H., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C. (2001). The leadership styles of women and men. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 781-797.
Eagly, A. H., Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C., & van Engen, M. L. (2003). Transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles: A meta- analysis comparing women and men. Psychological Bulletin, 129(4), 569-591.
Ely, R. J. (1994). The effects of organizational demographics and social identity on relationship among professional women. Administrative Science Quarterly, 39(2), 203-238.
Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., & Guido-DiBrito, F. (1998). Student development in college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Goktepe, J. R., & Schneier, C. E. (1988). Sex and gender effects in evaluating emergent leaders in small groups. Sex Roles, 19(1/2), 29-36.
Goktepe, J. R., & Schneier, C. E. (1989). Role of sex, gender roles, and attraction in predicting emergent leaders. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74(1), 165-167.
Gurman, E. B., & Long, K. (1992). Gender orientation and emergent leader behavior. Sex Roles, 27(7/8), 391-400.
Hall, R. J., Workman, J. W., & Marchioro, C. A. (1998). Sex, task, and behavioral flexibility effects on leadership perceptions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 74(1), 1-32.
Hegstrom, J. L., & Griffith, W. I. (1992). Dominance, sex, and leader emergence. Sex Roles, 27(5/6), 209-220.
Karakowsky, L., & Siegel, J. P. (1999). The effects of proportional representation and gender orientation of the task on emergent leadership behavior in mixed- gender work groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(4), 620-631.
Karau, S. J., & Eagly, A. H. (1999). Invited reaction: Gender, social roles, and the emergence of leaders. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 10(4), 321-327.
Kenney, R. A., Blascovich, J., & Shaver, P. R. (1994). Implicit leadership theories: Prototypes for new leaders. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 15(4), 409-430.
Kent, R. L., & Moss, S. E. (1994). Effects of sex and gender role on leader emergence. Academy of Management Journal, 37(5), 1335-1346.
Kolb, J. A. (1997). Are we still stereotyping leadership? A look at gender and other predictors of leader emergence. Small Group Research, 28(3), 370-393.
Kolb, J. A. (1999). The effect of gender role, attitude toward leadership, and self- confidence on leader emergence: Implications for leadership development. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 10(4), 305-320.
Kraus, G., & Gemmill, G. (1990). Idiosyncratic effects of implicit theories of leadership. Psychological Reports, 66, 247-257.
LaNoue, J. B., & Curtis, R. C. (1985). Improving women’s performance in mixed-sex situations by effort attributions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 337-356.
Loo, R. (1998, December). Attitudes toward women’s roles in society: A replication after 20 years. Sex Roles, 39(11/12), 903-912.
Megargee, E. I. (1969). Influence of sex roles on the manifestation of leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 54, 377-382.
Mend, M., Bell, T., & Bath, L. (1976). Dynamics of attitude formation regarding women in politics. Experimental Study of Politics, 5, 25-39.
Murrell, A. J. (2001). Gender and diversity in organizations: Past, present, and future directions. Sex Roles, 45(5/6), 1-16.
Nyquist, L. V., & Spence, J. T. (1986). Effects of dispositional dominance and sex role expectations on leadership behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 87-93.
Phillips, J. S., & Lord, R. G. (1986). Notes on the practical and theoretical consequences of implicit leadership theories for the future of leadership measurement. Journal of Management, 12(1), 31-41.
Sapp, S. G., Harrod, W. J., & Zhao L. J. (1996). Leadership emergence in task groups with egalitarian gender-role expectations. Sex Roles, 34(1/2), 65-80.
Singer, M. (2001). Implicit leadership theory: Are results generalizable from student to professional samples? The Journal of Social Psychology, 130(3), 407- 408.
Smith-Lovin, L., & Brody, C. (1989). Interruptions in group discussions: The effects of gender and group composition. American Sociological Review, 54, 424- 435.
Wayne, S. J., Liden, R. C., & Sparrowe, R. T. (1994). Developing Leader- member exchanges: The influence of gender and ingratiation. American Behavioral Scientist, 37(5), 697-714.
Wentworth, D. K., & Anderson, L. R. (1984). Emergent leadership as a function of sex and task type. Sex Roles, 11(5/6), 513-524.
Yukl, G. A. (1989). Leadership in organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall, Inc.