Gender and Leadership: Literature Review

5154 words 21 pages
Gender and Leadership

Literature Review

1. Introduction

Leadership theories and literature describe what leaders should do and on the other hand literature also exists on what leaders actually do, the former are prescriptive and the latter are descriptive (Bratton et al; 2005). Leadership style is a relatively consistent set of behaviours that characterise a leader (DuBrin; 1995). The main leadership theories encompass the trait, behaviour, contingency, power influence, and gender influence and exchange leadership perspectives.

This paper focuses on transformational leadership and thus will detail the theory underpinning transformational leadership vis a vis gender differences in leadership. A
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To tackle the question of whether men and women have different leadership styles, Eagly and Johnson conducted a 1990 review of leadership studies. Notably, although lab studies viewed women as both interpersonally oriented and democratic and men to be both task-oriented and autocratic, field studies indicated a difference on only one of those dimensions: The women were found to be more democratic, encouraging participation, and the men were more autocratic, directing performance. http:

A 2003 meta-analysis extended those results and indicated that women were slightly more likely than men to have the transformational leadership style. Women also appeared to reward good performance more than men, a very positive part of transactional leadership. Men were more likely to criticize subordinates and be less hands-on, styles found to be ineffective. http:

However, psychologists caution against concluding that women or men have some sort of natural or inherent leadership style. There is a possibility that women, knowing how negatively people respond to "bossy" women, soften their approach. Additionally, the research shows only averages, or tendencies, for each sex. Some men will have more "feminine" management styles; some women will have more "masculine" management styles.


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