Female Leadership Advantage and Disadvantag

Nevertheless, more people prefer male than female bosses, and it is more difficult for women than men to come leaders and to succeed in male-dominated leadership roles. This mix of apparent advantage and disadvantage that women leaders experience reflects the considerable progress toward gender equality that has taken place in both attitudes and behavior, coupled with the lack of complete attainment of this goal. A good introduction to the complexities of women’s current status as leaders can follow from contemplating journalists’ discussions of this topic.

The most striking aspect of some recent statements in newspapers and magazines is that they are favorable to women’s abilities as leaders. Some journalists seem o be saying that women have arrived or are arriving at their rightful position as leaders. Consider the following statement from Business Week: “After years of analyzing what makes leaders most effective and figuring out who’s got the Right Stuff, management gurus now know how to boost the odds of getting a great executive: Hire a female” (Sharpe, 2000, p. 4). Not only did Business Week announce that women have the “Right Stuff,” but also Fast Company maintained that “[t]he future of business depends on women” (Hoffmann, 2002, p. 9). Business Week followed with a cover story on the new gender gap, eating, “Men could become losers in a global economy that values mental power over might” (Conklin, 2003, p. 78). Readers of these articles might conclude that contemporary women are well prepared for leadership and have some advantages that men do not possess.

Now examine statements of a different sort. Consider, for example, a New York Times editorial clearly stating that being a woman is a decided disadvantage for leadership: When the crunch comes, the toughest issue for Clinton may be the one that so far has been talked about least. If she runs, she’ll be handicapped by her gender. Anyone who thinks it won’t be difficult for a woman to get elected president of the United States should go home, take a nap, wake up refreshed and think again (Herbert, 2006, p. AAA).

Concerning corporate leadership, a Wall Street Journal editorial conveyed a lack of confidence in women in the statement that “[m]ale directors are simply afraid to take an unnecessary risk by selecting a woman” (Depressions, 2006, p. A 16). In addition, consider editorial writer Maureen Odd’s New York Times commentary on Katie Curio’s ascension as the first female network evening news anchor: “The sad truth is, women only get to he top of places like the network evening news and Hollywood after those places are devalued” (Dodd, 2006, p. AAA).

In contemporary culture of the United States, women on the one hand are lauded as having the right combination of skills for leadership, yielding superior leadership styles and outstanding effectiveness. On the other hand, there appears to be widespread recognition that women often come in second to men in competitions to attain leadership positions. Women are still portrayed as suffering disadvantage in access to leadership positions as well as prejudice and resistance when they occupy these roles. How can women enjoy a leadership advantage but still suffer from disadvantage?

To answer this question, the first step for social scientists should be to figure out if these female advantage and disadvantage themes have any validity. If both themes are to some extent accurate, a second challenge is to determine how these seemingly contradictory views can be reconciled with one another. I will show that these opinions put forth by journalists do have some 1 Alice H. Eagle, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University. The article reports the author’s invited address at the American Psychological

Association 2006 Annual Meeting as winner of the Carolyn Wood Sheriff Award. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Alice H. Eagle, Department of Psychology, 2029 Sheridan Road, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208-2710. E-mail: [email protected] Due 2 validity. In addition, I argue that the paradoxical phenomena that they note reflect the particular conditions in the United States (and some other nations) in this period of history?an era marked by considerable change in women’s roles, combined with the persistence of many traditional expectations and tatters of behavior.

To address these important issues, I first consider cultural and scholarly definitions of what good leadership is and compare women and men in terms of this contemporary model of leadership. Then I present research pertaining to the actual effectiveness of female and male leaders as well as prejudice directed toward female leaders. Finally, I draw conclusions about the likely future of women’s representation as leaders. HOW IS GOOD LEADERSHIP DEFINED?

Are women excellent leaders, perhaps even better than men, on average or in some circumstances? To address these issues, researchers first have to answer the question of what good leadership is?what behaviors characterize effective leaders? Does effective leadership consist of the resolute execution of authority, the ability to support and inspire others, or skill in motivating teams to engage in collaborative efforts? All such characterizations of good leadership probably have some validity.

As situational theorists of leadership contend (see Amman, 2004), the appropriateness of particular types of leader behaviors depends on the context? features such as societal values, he culture of organizations, the nature of the task, and the characteristics of followers. Yet, despite this situational variability, leadership has historically been depicted primarily in masculine terms, and many theories of leadership have focused mainly on stereotypically masculine qualities (e. G. , Miner, 1993).

However, given that leaders’ effectiveness depends on context, it is reasonable to think that stereotypically feminine qualities of cooperation, mentoring, and collaboration are important to leadership, certainly in some contexts and perhaps increasingly in contemporary organizations. As I show in this article, these issues are critical to understanding women’s participation and success as leaders. To answer the question of what constitutes good leadership, let us consider the very substantial knowledge that researchers have amassed concerning leadership style.

Styles are relatively consistent patterns of social interaction that typify leaders as individuals. Leadership styles are not fixed behaviors but encompass a range of behaviors that have a particular meaning or that serve a particular function. Depending on the situation, leaders vary their behaviors within the boundaries of their style. For example, a leader with a typically participative style might display the collaborative behaviors of consulting, discussing, agreeing, cooperating, or negotiating, depending on the circumstances.

Moreover, leaders may sometimes abandon their characteristic style in an unusual situation. In a crisis, for example, a leader who is typically participative may become highly directive because EAGLE emergency situations can demand quick, decisive action. In recent decades, leadership researchers have attempted to identify the types of leadership that are most appropriate under the conditions that are common n contemporary organizations. These conditions include greatly accelerated technological growth and the increased complexity of organizations’ missions that follows from globalization of business and other endeavors.

Accompanying these changes are increasing workforce diversity and, for many organizations, intense competitive pressures. As more complex relationships of interdependency have emerged, many of the traditional ways of managing have come under pressure to change (Canter, 1997). Leadership researchers responded to this changing environment by defining good leadership as future- oriented rather than present-oriented and as fostering followers’ commitment and ability to contribute creatively to organizations.

An early statement of this approach appeared in a book by political scientist James McGregor Burns (1978), who delineated a type of leadership that he labeled transformational. Researchers then developed these ideas about leadership style by designing instruments to assess transformational leadership and studying its effects (e. G. , Viola, 1999; Bass, 1998). In this tradition, transformational leadership involves establishing oneself as a role model by gaining followers’ trust and confidence.

Such leaders delineate organizations’ goals, develop plans to achieve those goals, and creatively innovate, even in organizations that are already successful. Transformational leaders mentor and empower their subordinates and encourage them to develop their potential and thus to contribute more effectively to their organization. Other researchers have incorporated some of these same qualities under other labels, such as charismatic leadership (e. G. , Conger & Kananga, 1998). These researchers also portrayed a more conventional type of leadership that they labeled transactional.

Such leaders appeal to subordinates’ self-interest by establishing exchange relationships with them. Transactional leaders clarify subordinates’ responsibilities, reward them for meeting objectives, and correct them for failing to meet objectives. Finally, transformational and transactional leadership are both contrasted with a laissez-fairer style that is defined by an overall failure to take responsibility for managing. These three leadership styles?transformational, transactional, and laissez-fairer?are typically assessed by the Multiracial Leadership Questionnaire (ML; Antiskid, Viola, & Submariner’s, 2003).

This instrument represents transformational leadership by five subspaces, transactional leadership by three subspaces, and laissez-fairer leadership by one scale (see Table 1). Leaders’ behaviors are rated on these subspaces by their organizational subordinates, peers, or superiors and sometimes by the leaders themselves. Is transformational leadership actually effective? Research based primarily on subordinates’, peers’, and superiors’ evaluative ratings of leaders has shown that the answer to this question is yes. In a meta-analysis of Female Leadership Advantage and Disadvantage Table 1 Definitions of

Transformational, Transactional, and Laissez-Fairer Leadership Styles in the Multiracial Leadership (ML) Questionnaire and Mean Effect Sizes Comparing Men and Women ML scale and subspace Transformational Idealized influence (attribute) Idealized influence (behavior) Inspirational motivation Intellectual stimulation Individualized consideration Transactional Contingent reward Active management-by-exception Passive management-by-exception Laissez-fairer Description of leadership style Demonstrates qualities that motivate respect and pride from association with him or her Communicates values, purpose, ND importance of organization’s mission Exhibits optimism and excitement about goals and future states Examines new perspectives for solving problems and completing tasks Focuses on development and mentoring of followers and attends to their individual needs Provides rewards for satisfactory performance by followers Attends to followers’ mistakes and failures to meet standards Waits until problems become severe before attending to them and intervening Exhibits frequent absence and lack of involvement during critical junctures 3 Effect size -0. 10-0. 09 -O. 12-0. 02-0. 05 -0. 19-0. 19 -O. 3 0. 12 0. 27 0. 16 Note. This table is from Eagle, Johannes-Schmidt, and van Engine, (2003), Tables 1 and 3. Effect sizes appear in a standardized sex difference metric, d, calculated for each study and averaged across all available studies with more reliable values weighted more heavily. Positive effect sizes for a given leadership style indicate that men had higher scores than women, and negative effect sizes indicate that women had higher scores than men.

No effect size appears for overall transactional leadership because its component subspaces did not manifest a consistent direction. 7 studies testing the relationships between these styles and measures of leaders’ effectiveness (Judge & Piccolo, 2004; see also Lowe, Crock, & Submariner’s, 1996), transformational leadership was associated with greater effectiveness. As for transactional leadership, its “contingent reward” component, which features rewarding subordinates for appropriate behavior, also predicted effectiveness, and it appeared to be almost as effective as transformational leadership. Rewarding subordinates for good performance especially predicted followers’ satisfaction with their leaders.

In contrast, drawing lowers’ flaws to their attention and otherwise using punishment to shape their behavior (the style aspect known as “active management by exception”) showed only a weak positive relation to leaders’ effectiveness. As expected, intervening only when situations become extreme (the passive aspect of management by exception) was ineffective, as was the uninvolved laissez-fairer leadership style. Researchers’ attention to transformational leadership reflects the cultural shift that has occurred in norms about leadership: In many contexts, the Powerful Great Man model of leadership no longer holds. Good leadership is increasingly fined in terms of the qualities of a good coach or teacher rather than a highly authoritative person who merely tells others what to do.

As a demonstration of this shift, Mike Skewering, the coach of the highly successful Duke University basketball team, has become not only a famous sports figure, but also a leadership guru who is in great demand for giving lectures to business executives (Solve, 2006). Skywriter’s prominence as a model of good leadership is a sign of the times. The leadership styles that are most valued in contemporary organizations are modeled by an outstanding coach’s ability to mentor athletes ND foster effective teams. The collaborative and participative aspects of leadership style, which are the major emphasis in feminist writing on good leadership (e. G. , Chin, 2004), are inherent in this culturally approved style of transformational leadership. However, effective leadership is not defined merely by collaboration.

Among other important qualities of this coach/teacher model of leadership is inspiring others to be creative and to go beyond the confines of their roles. It is also critical to serve as a role model who elicits pride and respect and to present a vision hat delineates the values and goals of an organization. Rose Marie Bravo, CEO of Barberry Group, described her leadership style in terms that epitomize many of these features of transformational leadership: We have teams of people, creative people, and it is about keeping them motivated, keeping them on track, making sure that they are following the vision. I am observing, watching and encouraging and motivating …. We try to set an agenda throughout the company where everyone’s opinion counts, and it’s nice to be asked (Beauty, 2004, p. 88).

Business journalists have echoed some of these themes with statements such as “Boards re increasingly looking for Coos who can demonstrate superb people skills in dealing with employees or other stakeholders while delivering consistent results” (Tetchier, 2005). DO WOMEN HAVE AN ADVANTAGE IN LEADERSHIP STYLE? If women have a leadership advantage, it might show up in effective leadership styles that diverge somewhat from those that are typical of their male colleagues. Yet, 4 traditionally, researchers resisted any claims that women and men have different leadership styles. They argued that particular leader roles demand certain types of leadership, essentially confining men and women in the same ole to behave in the same ways (e. G. Canter, 1977; Naive & Gutted, 1981; van Engine, van deer Leaden, & Willingness, 2001 This argument surely has some validity because women and men have to meet similar requirements to gain leadership roles in the first place. Once a leader occupies such a role, the expectations associated with it shape behavior in particular directions. These pressures toward similarity of male and female leaders make it likely that any differences in the leadership styles of women and men are relatively small. Despite these similarity pressures, leaders have some freedom to choose the reticular ways that they fulfill their roles. Good illustrations of opportunities for choice come from research on organizational citizenship behavior, which consists of behaviors that go beyond the requirements of organizational roles (Barman, 2004; Foodstuff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Baccarat, 2000).

For example, leaders may help others with their work and may volunteer for tasks that go beyond their job description. Most leadership roles afford considerable discretion in certain directions? for example, to be friendly or more remote, to mentor or pay little attention to subordinates, and so forth. Female- male differences in leadership behavior are most likely to occur in these discretionary aspects of leadership that are not closely regulated by leader roles. Why might women and men display somewhat different leadership styles within the limits set by their leader roles? Women are faced with accommodating the sometimes conflicting demands of their roles as women and their roles as leaders.

In general, people expect and prefer that women be communal, manifesting traits such as kindness, concern for others, warmth, and gentleness and that men be gigantic, manifesting traits such as confidence, aggressiveness, and self-direction (e. G. , Newport, 2001; Williams & Best, 1990). Because leaders are thought to have more gigantic than communal qualities (Powell, Butterflies, & Parent, 2002; Scheme, 2001), stereotypes about leaders generally resemble stereotypes of men more than stereotypes of women. As a result, men can seem usual or natural in most leadership roles, thereby placing women at a disadvantage (Eagle & Kara, 2002; Hellman, 2001).

Although this dissimilarity between women and leaders appears to be decreasing over time, it has not disappeared (Udder & Bono, 2006; Sneezes, Books, Neff, & Synchs, 2004). As a result, people more easily credit men with leadership ability and more readily accept them as leaders. Because of these cultural stereotypes, female leaders face a double bind (Eagle & Carla, 2004, in press). They are expected to be communal because of the expectations inherent in the female gender role, and they are also expected to be gigantic because of the expectations inherent in most leader roles. However, because gigantic displays of EAGLE confidence and assertion can appear incompatible with being communal, women are vulnerable to becoming targets of prejudice.

Sometimes people view women as lacking the stereotypical directive and assertive qualities of good leaders?that is, as not being tough enough or not taking charge. Sometimes people dislike female leaders who display these very directive and assertive qualities because such women seem unfeminine?that is, just like a man or like an iron lady. Carry Farina, former CEO of Wallpapered, complained, “In the chat rooms around Silicon Valley I was routinely referred to as either a ‘bimbo’ or a ‘bitchy’?too soft or too hard, and presumptuous, besides” (Farina, 2006, p. 173). Tension between the communal qualities that people prefer in women and the predominantly gigantic qualities they expect in leaders produces cross- pressures on female leaders.

They often experience disapproval for their more masculine behaviors, such as asserting clear-cut authority over others, as well as for their more feminine behaviors, such as being especially supportive of others. Given such cross-pressures, finding an appropriate and effective leadership style is challenging, as many female leaders acknowledge. In fact, a study of Fortune 1000 female executives found that 96% rated as critical or fairly important developing a style with which male managers are comfortable” (Catalyst, 2001). How do female leaders resolve these cross-pressures? It would seem reasonable that these women might split the difference between the masculine and feminine demands that they face. Perhaps female leaders seek and often find a middle way that is effective yet neither unacceptably masculine nor unacceptably feminine (Yoder, 2001).

The contemporary coach/teacher style, as epitomized by transformational leadership, might approximate this middle way because it has culturally feminine aspects, especially in its “individualized consideration” behaviors (Hickman, Furnish, Hills, & Patterson, 1992), and is otherwise quite androgynous. Is there evidence to support this supposition that women differ from men in leader behaviors, especially in the transformational aspects of style? Empirical research for addressing this question about female and male styles of leading is extensive. The most recent meta-analysis comparing the leadership styles of men and women examined the contemporary distinctions between transformational, transactional, and laissez-fairer styles (Eagle, Johannes-Schmidt, & van Engine, 2003).

This review integrated the findings of 5 studies. Although many types of organizational managers were represented in the studies that were included, the majority were from either business or educational organizations. The managers’ median age was 44 years; 53% of the studies examined managers in the United States and 47% examined managers in other nations or mixed, global samples. The measures of managers’ typical leadership styles elicited estimates of the frequencies of the differing types of leader behaviors, which Female Leadership Advantage and Disadvantage were provided by leaders’ subordinates, peers, or superiors, or by the leaders themselves.

As displayed in Table 1, this meta-analysis revealed that female leaders were more transformational than male leaders. Among the five aspects of transformational leadership, women most exceeded men on individualized consideration, which encompasses supportive, encouraging treatment of subordinates. Female leaders were also more transactional than male leaders in their contingent reward behaviors, whereas male leaders were more likely than female leaders to manifest the two other aspects of transactional leadership (active and passive management by exception) as well as laissez-fairer leadership. All of hose differences between male and female leaders were small, consistent with substantially overlapping distributions of women and men (Hyde, 2005).

Given the findings on the effectiveness of these leadership styles noted earlier (Judge & Piccolo, 2004), this project shows that women, somewhat more than men, manifest leadership styles that relate positively to effectiveness, and men, more than women, manifest styles that relate only weakly to effectiveness or that hinder effectiveness. Replicating these findings, a large-scale study primarily of business managers, which was not available when the maintenances was inducted, produced very similar results (Antiskid et al. , 2003). Although revealing relatively small differences, findings indicate an advantage for women leaders. Women, more than men, appear to lead in styles that recommend them for leadership.

In contrast, men, more than women, appear to lead in less advantageous styles by (a) attending to subordinates’ failures to meet standards, (b) displaying behaviors that entail avoiding solving problems until they become acute, and (c) being absent or uninvolved at critical times. What accounts for these findings? As I have already suggested, the transformational repertoire of adhering behaviors (and contingent reward behaviors) may help women to resolve some of the typical incongruity between leadership roles and the female gender role because these styles are not distinctively masculine and some aspects, especially individualized consideration, are relatively feminine.

Because transformational and contingent reward leadership are more compatible with the female gender role than were most older models of leadership, women may adopt these behaviors and thereby become more effective. Another possibility is that double standards, in which men have greater access than women to adhering roles, require that women be more highly qualified than men to obtain leadership roles in the first place (e. G. , Iberian & Cabinetwork, 1997; Fiasco, 2000). In fact, research shows that women face some disadvantage in obtaining promotions at all levels in organizations, not just at the highest levels (e. G. , Baxter & Wright, 2000; Elliott & Smith, 2004).

To the extent that women must overcome barriers to attain leadership roles and therefore are more stringently selected than men, women leaders may 5 manifest a more effective set of leader behaviors mainly because they are more qualified. Both of these explanations, the one based on gendered expectations and the one based on double standards, may well underlie the observed differences in the leadership styles of women and men. Because this issue could not be resolved within Eagle et al. ‘s (2003) meta-analysis on leadership styles, it remains a critical issue for additional research. What is clear from the meta- analysis is that women leaders, on average, exert leadership through behaviors considered appropriate for effective leadership under contemporary conditions.