Gender Differences in Leadership
This paper seeks to review and discuss recent literature devoted to the tasks of identifying and explaining gender differences in leadership behavior(s) and effectiveness with the intention of winding up which gender makes a better leader basing on the findings of this paper. It should also be noted, however, that this paper’s conclusion is limited to the scope of previous studies done relevant to the topic.
This paper further examines the differences and similarities in the stereotypes about male and female leaders. Additionally, this paper also studies the tendency for men or women to emerge as leaders and the ways and styles in which women and men lead. Accounting to the scope of this study, this paper hopefully finds a final point of taking a stand on whichever gender makes a better leader, men or women. This study is just a simple one done in only several pages unlike those researchers who have dedicated a lot of their time in finding enough evidences for this argument.
Women in the Workforce
asserts that more women are entering the workforce on a worldwide basis (1995). This trend goes along with the unmatched increases in the diversity of the ethnic and national origin demographic makeup of organizations. Furthermore, it is also been found that there has been a relational increase in the presence of women in management and leadership positions. The supply of more and more capable women in the workforce has been caused by women’s experiences and education necessary in qualifying for leadership positions. As a result, most organizations with a number of women in their workforce reestablish and expand their perception of what constitutes effective leadership as it relates to gender, stereotyping, and role expectations.
A mere prediction and estimation has been made that by the year 2030 women will outnumber men in management roles. This is in view of the fact that more women are earning Bachelor level degrees and participating in graduate level educational programs (2001). Nowadays, diversity is already been increasingly valued by most organizations seeing that many of them are successful with women leading the way.
Trends and Social Implication
A minimal number of women in the workforce are not a new issue to be explored. What’s interesting to note is the eventual rise of these women on the workforce that in some extent have taken a place and position of the men. Statistically, have found that the percentage of women in managerial roles ranges from 25 percent in Germany to 43 percent in Australia while the percentage of women in positions at the senior management level is between 0.3 percent and 5 percent in Japan and Germany, respectively and 15 percent in Australia with the U.S. at 10 percent (1999).
When it comes to management level women, the U.S. workforce percentage is approximately 40 percent but with women in this group holding onto only 0.5 percent of the highest paid management positions. During the year 1997, there were only two female CEOs among the leadership of Fortune 500 companies and only five in the next 500. The following year, reported that only 10 percent of corporate board positions were held by women with 150 of the Fortune 500 companies reporting no women board members whatsoever (2000).
Difference in Compensation
The difference in gender does not just stop of being biologically dissimilar but also with the division of benefits. Back in the year 1990, had additional findings that at the Vice President level of organizations, women VPs were compensated an average of 48 percent less than their male counterparts. However, almost a decade after, a new study of (1998; 2000) showed that this trend is reversing within Fortune 500 companies wherein women leaders averaged 32 percent less than their male counterparts.
Given the situation, it would be very attention-grabbing how could this happen? What are the factors that made this happen? Stelter has several explanations according to her researches (). There are several arguments and a growing knowledge base of research attempting to explain these discrepancies, their epidemiology, and their potential impact on both social and organizational grounds. pointed out to the “glass ceiling” phenomenon as one of the reasons for any numerical differences between the genders in leadership positions. Under the glass ceiling theory, it argues that it is the social model of expectations and beliefs that undermine women’s attempts to gain leadership roles.
As long as traditional perspectives of leadership center on masculine-oriented concepts of authoritarian and task-oriented behavior, then these same perspectives may contribute to a “glass ceiling” for all intents and purposes prohibiting relationship-oriented (i.e. feminine) leadership behaviors from being recognized as practicable leadership behavior. It is striking to know that some of the recommendations to women who want to push open this ceiling have unknowingly reinforced a perception of good and bad leadership orientations. said that “recommendations that focus on how women can better fit in to a more accepted, even though masculine ideal of leadership may devalue the unique perspectives and contributions to be made by the woman leader” (2000).
Discrimination and Stereotyping in Gender Leadership
Whenever researchers or the general public evaluate the effectiveness of male and female leaders, or the potential for women or men to lead, it is important to determine whether comparisons are based on stereotypical conceptions of male and female leaders or whether such comparisons are based on observed behaviors, traits, or styles of male and female leaders. Even when comparisons are based on “unbiased” observations, situational cues and role demands can influence the leadership-related behaviors we observe. In other words, women and men may lead differently because they occupy situations that call for different styles of leadership.
Stereotyping involves generalizing beliefs about groups as a whole to members of those groups. For example, if you believe that older people are more likely to resist change than younger people, you may infer that an older person you have just met is likely to be rigid and to have a hard time adapting to changes. Through stereotyping, we can categorize people into groups on numerous demographic bases, including gender, race, age, religion, social class, and so forth, and our perceptions of specific individuals will be influenced by what we know or think we know about the group as a whole. Gender stereotypes are socially shared beliefs about the characteristics or attributes of men and women in general that influence our perceptions of individual men and women.
(1988) argues that stereotypes tend to exaggerate both the perceived differences of members of different groups (e.g., men and women) and the perceived similarities of a particular man or woman to the general categories of male and female. That is, men and women who are objectively similar in many ways (e.g., similar appearance, behavior, interests, values, etc.) often will be seen as quite different because they are members of two quite different categories. The oppositional nature of masculine and feminine stereotypes implies that men and women should be separate from each other in a variety of contexts including work (e.g., occupational segregation) and family (e.g., cooking vs. mowing lawn) activities, and these stereotypes can have a powerful influence on both men’s and women’s workplace experiences.
Sex Stereotypes of Women and Men
Sex-role stereotypes and sex-trait stereotypes are the two levels in which sex stereotypes work (1990). Sex-role stereotypes are beliefs about the appropriateness of various roles and activities for men and women (e.g., the two sexes participate in these activities with differential frequency). Sex-trait stereotypes are beliefs that psychological and behavioral characteristics describe the majority of men to a greater or lesser degree than the majority of women.
Numerous researchers have attempted to assess the relative favorability of stereotypes for each sex, and most have found that the masculine stereotype is more positively valued than the feminine stereotype (1972; 1957). On the other hand, not all evidence supports this conclusion. Despite the fact that a higher proportion of stereotypically male attributes than female have been found to be socially desirable, the favorability of the two sex stereotypes is not necessarily significantly different ( 1968). In addition, assessments of stereotype favorability may depend on the method used to define gender stereotypes. Based on many researches, evidences showed that the validity of genders stereotypes is often poor representations of individual men or women.
Effects of Stereotypes in the Workplace
Stereotypes not only affect the decisions we make about men and women but also affect self-perceptions, decisions, and choices made by those men and women. Furthermore, gender stereotypes can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, in the sense that both men and women may feel pressure to behave in ways that correspond to gender stereotypes. Therefore, stereotypes can affect both how men and women behave in the workplace and how their behavior is perceived. Study done by (2000) has found that stereotypes limit women’s effectiveness and success in the workplace.
The historically low count of women leaders can be charge to the patterns of discrimination and stereotype. Two authors, , agree that perception of what constitutes good or appropriate leadership behaviors has been described as driven by older stereotypes that favor men as having more leadership qualifications (1998 & 2000 ).
additionally asserted that depending upon the corporate practices of recruitment, retention, and promotion, the corporation itself may also contribute to an under-representation of women in leadership roles (2000). These stereotypes and discriminatory practices create subsequent pressure with resulting stress implications. It may cause women leaders to adopt a more masculine type of leadership. However, Gardiner and Tiggeman have found this behavior as the reason for women to hold back from attaining more leadership positions (1999).
Two other authors, dispute that even if women have the skills and abilities necessary in leading an organization effectively, they may still have difficulty convincing others of their leadership capability (1996). Such pressure put upon women may cause women to act tough and authoritative (i.e. masculine) just to be taken seriously but most of the time perceived negatively when women act in a more aggressive manner.
Gender Comparison in Leadership
Women do have an advantage when it comes to a certain leadership style (i.e. transformational leadership). Transformational leadership means empowering their followers to think creatively and act responsibly in both autonomous and cooperative settings. There is some evidence that women are more skilled in several aspects of transformational leadership than men (1993), but research examining gender differences in transformational styles of leadership is scarce, and gender is rarely mentioned in the transformational leadership literature.
A handful of studies that have compared male and female leaders on transactional and transformational leadership find that female leaders, compared to male leaders, are more likely to be perceived by their followers as transformational leaders ( 1996; 1995;1994).
The study of (1992) found that overall leadership effectiveness could be assessed by objective performance measures (i.e. tests of business knowledge and worker productivity measures) yet also found that effectiveness was more likely to be assessed by subjective measures (i.e. subordinates’, peers’ or supervisors’ ratings of leaders’ overall effectiveness as leaders.
(1995) have an astounding conclusion. They found that, after gathering and collecting data from different resources, men and women were equally effective. Both men and women are rated as equally effective on both objective and subjective measures. Nevertheless, men tended to be rated as slightly more effective than women on measures of their ability to lead. Female leaders, on the other hand, tended to obtain higher satisfaction ratings compared to male leaders.
This somewhat generalization comes to its high point in two extremes. Expectedly, there was a fairly strong bias in favor of male leaders in military settings while slightly less so in first line management positions. Female were favored in sectors like education, government, and social service settings and to some extent, in business settings. Additionally, women were rated as more effective in second-line or middle-level management positions.
Obviously, men are rated as more effective leaders in situations that are decidedly masculine and highly male dominated (e.g. military). What is more surprising is that even though women tend to be rated as more effective in female-dominated settings (e.g. social services and education) they are making gains over their male counterparts in some traditionally masculine domains (e.g. business and middle management).
Regardless of how women are perceived as leaders, the evidences collected by many researchers strongly suggest that women and men are equally effective as leaders across many different types of situations. Despite the perceived similarity in the way men and women lead and for the fact that women tend to be equally effective as men as leaders, women still face significant difficulties in going up to top levels of management in business organizations.
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