Gender and Leadership – Does It Matter?

I come across the topic of gender and leadership quite a bit and thought I would share what I found after researching this subject. The questions are always the same and it goes like this,

“Does gender (being male vs. female) affect your leadership styles/abilities at work?”

I want to help in dispelling the myths that are perpetuated throughout both the Internet as well as some (not so well-researched) literature. The following is a piece I researched and wrote about a month ago.

Overview

According to “Work in the 21st Century,” 99.6 percent of all top executives of Fortune 500 companies are men, while just 0.4 percent are women. Interestingly, the book “Leadership in Organizations,” states that there are no consistent findings on gender differences in leadership.

Considerations

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that women comprise 46.5 percent of the total U.S. workforce and are estimated to account for 47 percent of the labor force in 2016.

Leadership Styles

Frank Landy, Ph.D. and Jeffrey Conte, Ph.D., maintain in their book, “Work in the 21st Century,” that women tend to favor a democratic and participative leadership style, while men prefer an autocratic leadership style.

Misconception

Alice Eagly, Mary Johannesen-Schmidt and Marloes van Engen, in the July 2003 issue of “Psychological Bulletin,” argue women have an advantage over men in competing for leadership positions, and even suggested that women would make better executives.

Warning

Gary Yukl, Ph.D., cautions in his book, “Leadership in Organizations,” that research on differences in gender and leadership effectiveness has been inconclusive. For this reason, he contends that gender is not a good predictor of leadership effectiveness and does not impact employees or the workplace.

Expert Advice

According to Gary Powell, Ph.D., in the August 1990 issue of “Academy of Management Executive,” there are no differences between male and female managers. In addition, Dr. Powell says that any “sex differences that have been found are few, found in laboratory studies more than field studies, and tend to cancel each other out. (p. 71)” In short, gender does not affect leadership in business.

References

  • “Academy of Management Executive”; One More Time: Do Female and Male Managers Differ?; Gary Powell; August 1990
  • “Leadership in Organizations”; Gary Yukl; 2010
  • “Psychological Bulletin”; Transformational, Transactional, and Laissez-Faire Leadership Styles: A Meta-Analysis Comparing Women and Men; Alice Eagly, Mary Johannesen-Schmidt and Marloes van Engen; July 2003
  • “U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics”; Employment and Earnings, 2008 Annual Averages and the Monthly Labor Review; November 2007
  • “Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology”; Frank J. Landy and Jefferey M. Conte; 2007
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