Gender Roles in Leadership

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Leadership is continuously evolving throughout history. Ever since men and women have been on this planet there have been leaders. In the last hundred years, women have stepped into leadership and management roles. Women are often forced to fight extra for what they want. Through the findings in this paper, it will become more evident that women are constantly at a disadvantage to men. Men and women are different in many ways but the question to be answered is their approach to leadership different? Gender Roles Different factors like race, sex, and culture impact leadership. Often, people put gender roles on leaders especially in an organization. According to the sex role theory, being a man or women means enacting certain functions which relate to one’s sex. There are things that can’t be controlled that put gender roles on leaders. Traits such as aggression, ambition, dominance, force, independence, and confidence have a link to male leadership (Cares, Wearing and Mann, 2000). However, traits such as affection, kindness, sympathy, sensitivity, and helpfulness have a connection with female leadership. Studies suggest that men and women have attributes that matched their effective leadership skills. However, the social role expectations offered a plausible explanation that accounted for gender variation in leadership (Stelter, 2002).

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are factors that are out of the leader’s control. These factors are in direct correlation with leadership effectiveness and leadership emergence According to a study done by Kolb “Attitude toward leadership is a stronger predictor of leader emergence than masculinity (Kolb, 1999).” No matter men or women, attitude means everything. It’s fascinating to read that because of this woman may be at a disadvantage. According to a study done by but women may be at a disadvantage. Women are expected to be passive and leave a non-leader like impression and when this is enacted it sends a message of ineffectiveness. (Claes, 1999; Lipsey et al., 1990). Women fall in the damned if they do and damned if they don’t category. Steven Appelbaum has a great explanation of this in his article. Early in a women’s life they obtain a lot of sex role learning. This can lead to difficulties in their work life later. This is a form of a “culture trap.” (Applebaum, Audet, and Miller 2003). Women face an uphill battle and often are often treated as “less than” when compared to men in organizations. Research has found that when women enact the roles there expected to play according to their gender, it gives a signal of “second class”(Applebaum, Audet, and Miller 2003).

Self-confidence is another form of an environment factor between the genders. Self-confidence is an attribute that much of the leaders have. Self-confidence is a big part of what a leader does and is a good precursor to a successful team. It’s important for a leader to demonstrate confidence especially when they are talking about goals and the future of the company. Team members can sense the confidence. According to research there are “further and more worrisome indications that women have internalized the noted second class attitude, resulting in a lowered self-confidence and again, a disconnect with others’ expectations of leadership” (Applebaum, Audet, and Miller 2003). When women are succeeding in large corporations, it still seems that they are treated as “second class.” `Relative deprivation theory has been used to explain women’s apparent satisfaction with less, for example women being paid less for doing the same job. (Kirchmeyer, 1998; Jackson, 1989). The findings are shocking and are like the “culture trap” women face meaning there damned if they do damned if they don’t situation. Accepting less for the same job may give off an emotion of lacking self confidence. This may ensure that women get less rewards, money, and praise. (Applebaum, Audet, and Miller 2003).

Experience is another environmental factor gender face in organizations. “Although both experience and masculinity are correlated with group assessed leader rise, neither emerges as a huge predictor” (Kolb, 1997). This issue is another battle woman must face. It’s surprising that experience isn’t a much larger predicator of leadership skills compared to masculinity. Experience, self-confidence, and attitude should continue to be studies because of their predicate value in leader mergence. These studies are more accurate in predicting leaders then masculinity. This technique also doesn’t rely on gender stereotype (Kolb, 1997).’’ This research suggests that women who stay in a pipeline long enough will be demonstrate experience. Otherwise their leadership abilities will lack credibility within the company.

The most surprising finding in the article is about the old boy’s network. “Despite high levels of political correctness popular in the North American corporate society today, the “old boys’ network’’ is alive and well and not always women’s greatest source of support.” There is a resistance by men in the network today. They generate institutional impediments to stall a woman’s advances in organizations. These men go to great lengths to cut women down at a cultural level. They make it a goal to reduce women to sexual objects. “They foster solidarity between men and sexualize, threaten, downgrade, control, and divide women’ (Rigg and Sparrow, 1994). Contributing to the old boys’ ability to do this shows how much power men still tend to have. For example, male managers who are control of a woman’s life at work will stop them from rising in the company. They also feel that only men have the traits to be in a managerial position. That male managers feel that women’s characteristics cannot be used as strengths in the organization can impact them negatively in deciding on job placement, promotion, and training opportunities (Burke and Collins, 2001). This idea greatly interferes with the company’s success as well. Not promoting the appropriate people mean that the best isn’t rising in the organization. others tend to attribute women’s accomplishments to unstable, external factors, to make inaccurate predictions about women’s commitments, to believe that women lack the suitable traits for management, and to allow cross-sexuality to impair relationships at work, women’s success determinants will probably differ from men’s (Kirchmeyer, 1998).

Gendered Leadership

Styles Leadership styles such as autocratic, task oriented, and interpersonally oriented uphold the nurturing of interpersonal relationships. Additionally, the styles correlate to gender as they portray the masculinity of available sex stereotypes (Lynda and Joanne, 2003). People may consider men competent, rational, and assertive. Females may be viewed as sensitive, warm, tactful and expressive. Task oriented and interpersonally oriented approaches are like elements like communion and agency, intimacy, or independence which respectively refer to feminine and masculine approaches of with others (Stelter, 2002). There are many reasons to suggest that male and female leaders, even those who occupy the same positions, may differ in part in their leadership style despite the structural forces (Eagly and Johnson 2003). “One such reason acknowledges ingrained sex differences in personality traits and behavioral tendencies, differences that are not nullified by organizational selection or socialization. For example, some psychologists have maintained that sex differences in adult social behaviors are in part, a product of biological influences such as the greater prenatal androgynization of males” (Money & Ehrhardt, 1972). “The effect size calculated is g, the difference between the leadership style of the men and women, divided by the pooled standard deviation” (Hedges & Olkin, 1985). “A positive sign was given to stereotypic differences (i.e., women more interpersonally oriented, men more task oriented, women more democratic and less autocratic), and a negative sign to counter stereotypic differences” (Eagly and Johnson 2003). Men are believed to be motivated and more self-assertive to master the occupation. However, women are believed to be more selfless and concerned with others. In research on gender, these two orientations have been labeled feminin and masculine, expressive and instrumental, communal and agentic. Although the task and interpersonal dimensions studied in leadership research are not as broad as these general tendencies examined in gender stereotype research, the ideas are quite similar. (Eagly and Johnson 2003.)

Differences in Leadership Styles

Sometimes, this pressure might result in what is called a “double blind.’ This is when a woman leader must assert dominance to be taken seriously but may be perceived negatively for acting aggressively. (Oakley, 2000). Social role theory describes someone’s behavior as acting accordingly to people’s expectations. Social role theory argues that any difference can be accounted for by socialization of the leader and their subordinates, each of them bringing their own expectations of themselves and others in the group based on gender. Carless describes female leadership development in “concerning the socialization process for girls and women that includes more of the behaviors and style one would expect to find in transformational leadership. Women, Carless argues, are naturally socialized towards skills in participative leadership, collaborative group management, and quality interpersonal relations” (Carless, 1998).

Possible Cause of Differences

A study done by David Matsumoto and Judith Hall in 2004 showed women are more accurate in judging nonverbal emotions in the workplace. Conscious awareness is a skill that women showed in this study. Even when put in specific situations women still scored higher on nonverbal emotion cues. Women are more accurate than men in judging emotional nonverbal signals. This could mean that men and women’s thinking abilities may differ. A theory that can be made from these findings is that women are socialized to decipher emotions better than men from such a young age. The ability to do this is so ingrained in them compared to men. Another theory is that female brains may be better equipped to understand emotions from birth (Matsumoto and Hall 2004).

Closing Thoughts

My findings from the research paper were surprising to me in many ways. I didn’t have any idea that women face such an uphill battle. There are so many situations in which a woman is logjammed. Despite what she does, she will be incorrect and viewed negatively by her followers. I think the direction organizations are going in today is positive for women. I think that there are males in organizations that feel it would be the best if men were allotted jobs which were higher up in organizations. A good example of this would be the “good old boys.” I think that if a group like this exists and not a lot of people know about it there are many other things people aren’t aware of that affects women negatively. It’s obvious that there are gender differences in leadership styles. But there is no sign that the performance of a company is affected any differently whether a female or a male is the leader. From my findings, I feel that women are drawn to a more democratic leadership style. Another reason I believe that women are at a disadvantage is because they cannot use every technique of leading like men can. When women try to enact traits for certain leadership styles, they will be looked at differently from by their followers compared to a man that acted the same way. So, if a woman tries to demonstrate an autocratic leadership style it may be viewed more negatively than a man. This is because this style aligns more with a man’s culture. “Culture Trap” is something I talk about in my paper, and I believe it relates to this situation as well. My belief, after the research is that women must take a different approach. In an organizational environment, it’s important to take the approach “what is going to work best for me. It’s important that people know their strengths and weaknesses. If a woman had a great boss and that boss taught her how to lead well that doesn’t necessarily mean that she can go in and demonstrate the same leadership techniques as he did. I’m not saying she can’t use much of what she has learned, but there may be some things that she should stay away from. Leadership is a sophisticated practice that takes time to master. I feel that this relates to team leadership in every way. We have shared a lot of information with each other over the summer. We put out thoughts on how we would encounter leadership situations. But something that I didn’t take into consideration was how different leadership styles can be utilized differently from each gender. For example, I would have more success with a leadership style that was more autocratic then democratic because of my gender. I understand that this isn’t the case for every situation. But it is important to neglect the evidence of the studies. The studies that show there is significant correlation between gender and leadership styles. I feel like this topic can be applied to every topic we covered over the semester. As a leader it’s important to know that there are certain leadership qualities that can be utilized. The more knowledge a leader has the more successful they will have in building a successful team.

Cited Sources:

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