Leadership Communication: Theory and Practice

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Gender and Leadership

By Phillip Rosario
Leadership Communication: Theory and Practice

Gender, communication, and Leadership

History has shown that women were excluded from certain leadership positions. Today, women have broken many leadership barriers, but one leadership position has eluded females for over two hundred years, the presidency of the United States. The following publication looks at the dynamics of gender and leadership. Men and women have long been believed to behave in different ways, and these differences have been a subject of interest for research. Due to these documented gender-based differences, researchers subsequently moved to examine the different ways that men and women lead. Men have been described as leading in a hierarchical, top down fashion, where power was defined as authority they have over others. Women, however, have been described as being collaborative leaders, relying on interpersonal relationships, where power was defined by their ability to bring people together and establish consensus (Clisbee, 2005). Interest in the impact of gender on leadership is relatively new, The first studies were conducted in the US in the early 1970s when male managers at nine insurance companies were asked to characterize women in general, men in general, and successful managers. Successful managers were overwhelmingly identified exclusively with male traits. Many similar studies have been carried out since that time and all have demonstrated that the successful managerial stereotype remains male (Vinnicombe, 1999). Women managers’ perceptions of the successful manager are only slightly less conclusive. Unlike the women managers in the 1970s and 1980s not all female managers today sextype the successful manager as male; however, no one , male or female, ever identifies the successful manager as feminine. Male, and only to a slightly lesser extent, female, managers continue to describe successful...
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