Gender Differences in Leadership

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So what do you think? Is there a difference between the sexes in terms of leadership styles? Do men or women make better leaders? Would you prefer to work for a man or a woman? Explain.

The field of gender differences in leadership styles is an area that is still full of ambiguity and paradox. Despite the number of studies devoted to the topic, there are still unanswered questions. The gender stereotypes based on historical roles has lead to a substantial bias against women and leadership. Although more women are assuming leadership roles today than before, the notion of a woman as a leader is still foreign to many individuals, male and female alike. Changes in perception are difficult to achieve because the traditional norms of leadership are firmly entrenched. In our society, as in most others, leaders have customarily been males. In the past, leadership opportunities for women tended to be limited to all female organizations such as sororities, convents, and female institutions of education-but even there the presidents of women’s colleges were almost always men .From this phenomenon the generalization was made that leadership implies maleness and that, since women were not men, they lacked the qualities that are necessary to be leaders.

The assumption that leadership equates with maleness is deeply embedded in both our thinking and language. Leaders are often described with adjectives such as “competitive,” “aggressive,” or “dominant,” which are typically associated with masculinity. A female leader is frequently regarded as an aberration and “women who become leaders are often offered the presumed accolade of being described as being like men”. For instance, Margaret Thatcher was often described as the “best man” in Great Britain.

Some researcher speculated that sex role stereotypes accounted for the lack of women in leadership positions. Early research on sex role stereotypes in the late 1960s and early 1970s revealed that men were seen as more...
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