Gender in Leadership: A Journey Through Previous Literature
Traits and Styles5
General Impressions and Stereotypes
The aims of the literature review are to discover if gender roles are accurate and if the leaders’ gender has an effect on the management style employed. If there is a difference in style which one is more effective and what these differences may mean for the future of leadership. “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” Northouse (2006, p. 3). There are many different definitions and approaches to leadership, these approaches include the trait, behaviour and situational approaches along with the transactional and transformational theories. Leadership is vital because “Leadership training and development can maximize productivity, shape a positive culture and promote harmony” Leadership Training Tutorials (2004). Anyone can be a leader, but as a result of this there are stereotypes and disadvantages for those who are not the majority, normally white males. As a result of leaders having different backgrounds they may or may not have different styles which could be more effective. “Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women” (WHO, 2012) these gender roles are normally divided into masculine and feminine roles. The author will be focusing on gender differences of leaders, if they have different styles or if one is more effective than another. Lord et al. (1982) implicit leadership theories were used to assess which areas of leadership should be researched because they best distinguish leadership skills. These included cognitive structures; traits and behaviours of leaders (Kenny, Schwartz-Kenny and Blascovich, 1996), general impressions or stereotypes (Engle and Lord, 1997) and cognitive categories such as charisma and emotional intelligence (Offermann et al, 1994).
The author searched journal and article databases thoroughly to find leadership and gender related papers. After the abstract, papers were read and relevant articles were shortlisted and those which where not were discarded. The author then read the shortlisted articles and proceeded to organize them via content and themes noticed. The findings are arranged starting with traits and behaviors, general impressions and then cognitive categories.
Traditionally leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and discipline (Sun Tzu 200BC cited by Pockell, L. et al, 2007), however since then Lord, De Vader, & Alliger, (1986) conducted a meta-analysis and found that traits such as masculinity, dominance and intelligence where most characteristic of those who emerged as leaders. However this is still 26 years old, more recently Costa & McCrae, (1992) Five Factors model where the individual factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These all have a strong relation to leadership traits. Even more recently Muchiri and Cooksey (2011) found that males and females believe that leaders have different traits. Males believe the important leadership traits are fairness, equality and honesty, develop staff, foster workplace harmony, and being trustworthy. However it was also discovered that females place emphasis on communication, decision-making ability, and supporting the leader to create greater organisational effectiveness. The men have mostly neutral words such as fairness and equality, however developing the staff suggests a more feminine role as it is more people-related focus. The women on the other hand have used feminine words for instance, supporting, thus proving inline with gender roles....