Term Paper: Women-Workforce Effects

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[. . .] This theory also suggests that leaders exhibit certain leadership styles and behaviors based on what people expect of them as a male or female; this expectancy is also referred to as gender roles (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). Gender roles are defined as the "shared beliefs that apply to individuals on the basis of their socially identified sex" (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 781).

Thus based on this theory leadership roles are assumed to result from "perceiver's observations" of men and women as "concentrated in different social roles in the family and paid employment" (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 781). One logically concludes then that leadership styles take on the form of stereotypical behaviors and styles assigned men and women based on their sex, not on their actually skills or capabilities.

Authoritative Vs. Interpersonal Attributes

With regard to gender roles and leadership styles, there are certain characteristics that are more often attributed to men than women. Men are more typically ascribed as having Authoritative characteristics which include a style that is assertive, confident, aggressive, forceful, independent, daring and competitive (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001; Eagly et. al, 2000).

Women on the other hand in employment settings are more often associated with traits such as a concern for the well being of employees, and a leadership style that is more sympathetic, interpersonal, nurturing and gentle (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). Thus in an employment environment women may more often unfortunately be seen as more likely to avoid drawing attention to themselves and supporting and soothing others rather than leading them.

Does the assignment of a leadership position eliminate the influence of gender roles? Research in corporate settings suggests that "although some gender-stereotypic differences erode under the influence of organizational roles, others do not" (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 781).

One study using an experience sampling methodology suggested that strong stereotypically male 'Authoritative' behavior was controlled relative to the status of a person engaged in an interaction, however 'communal' behaviors often attributed to female gender roles were indeed still influenced by the sex of people engaged in interaction regardless of their status (Eagly, et. al, 2000; Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).

The research does support the notion that leaders whether male or female must carry out the same required activities. The manner in which they are carried out and the manner in which decisions are made however are up to an individual's discretion, and may vary according to gender.

Some research argues that gender influenced behavior results when "gendered expectancies" are put upon leaders by individuals reactions to them and a leaders response to such expectancies; further the research supports the notion that many people internalize gender roles and reflect those roles in their leadership style (Eagly et. al, 2000; Wood, Christensen, Hebl & Rothgerber, 1997; Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).

Ely (1995) suggests that because of different social identities, men and women have different expectations of their own behavior in organization settings, and create self-definitions of what they believe a good leadership style to be; these definitions may reflect "a blending of their managerial role and gender role" (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 782).

One study conducted of the influence of self-definition of managers and its influence on leadership style suggests that men score slightly higher than women on scales that assessed the desire to "manifest competitive and assertive qualities in managing" (Eagly, Karau, Miner & Johnson, 1994; from Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 782).

There is some evidence that suggests that women elicit negative opinions and evaluations when they exhibit traditionally 'male' behaviors such as competitiveness and assertiveness. This may be attributed in part to gender stereotyping, or to cultural norms which contribute to the notion that women are better at interpersonal tasks and men are better at assertive/management type roles. In an organization that is male dominated, it is likely that this type of thinking is more difficult to overcome than in one that is more equally mixed.

Similarity of Leadership Styles to Traditional Gender Roles

Research also suggests that congruity should exist between traditional male and female gender and leadership roles. Some studies argue that incongruity between female gender roles and typical leadership roles (often male oriented) "tends to create prejudice toward female leaders and potential leaders" in the form of less favorable evaluation of women's potential for leadership and less favorable evaluation of actual leadership style (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 782). Thus women are less well evaluated if they exhibit Authoritative or typically masculine behaviors.

Many of the typical female "stereotypical qualities" are often qualities that are not favored in leaders, thus males are automatically assumed to be more fit for the role of leader than women are (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). Women are also more often expected to demonstrate characteristic communal leadership styles; in fact this style is thought to be 'preferred' in women, and women who violate this stereotypical style may be evaluated negatively as a consequence (Eagly & Johannesen, 2001, p. 782).

Conforming to a gender role that assumes that women are not assertive and competitive however may jeopardize a woman's chances for success and achievement in the role of a leader. There is a greater potential for prejudice in the workforce against women because a woman's stereotypical gender role varies more significantly from a traditional leadership role than a male gender role does. Thus negative sanctions are more likely to be employed against potential women leaders than men (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 782).

Types of Leadership Style

There are many different approaches to leadership. Among the more common include a task-oriented leadership style and an interpersonal oriented style. The task oriented style more often demands structured organization, explicit rules conformance and maintenance of high standards as well as a demand that subordinates produce a high level of performance (Eagly & Johannesen, 2001, p. 782). An interpersonal leadership style however often includes behaviors including helping others, supporting and helping out subordinates rather than encouraging them to simply follow rules and procedures and looking out for the welfare of employees (Eagly & Johannesen, 2001, p. 782).

Leadership styles can also include the tendency of an individual to behave in a manner that encourages group decision making or a more autocratic and domineering style which commands more obedient and less participative behavior from subordinates (Bass, 1990; Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001). This tendency toward being more democratic vs. more autocratic usually is also often associated more often to gender roles, with men more likely to demonstrate autocratic leadership styles and females more prone to demonstrate democratic styles according to research (Bass, 1990; Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).

Other research suggests that women demonstrate more transformational leadership styles characterized by communal behaviors and individual consideration such as mentoring, whereas a transactional style characterized by establishing exchange relationships with subordinates is more often a male leadership style (Hackman, Fumiss, Hills & Paterson, 1992; Ross & Offermann, 1997). Thus one may conclude that male leadership styles are more often considered task-oriented and autocratic whereas female leaders are more often considered communal leaders (Eagly & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001, p. 782).

These differences are often minimal in nature however, and again more often associated with expectancies rather than the actual skills of males vs. females. People often behave in the way that they are expected to. If an organization expects that a male leader then, is more likely to be successful because he will be aggressive and assertive, then they are more likely to promote a male to this role.

The main categories of leadership style may be categorized as follows: task-oriented, autocratic, interpersonal and democratic. The latter two are more often associated with female leadership styles. Task and interpersonal styles are compared with democratic and autocratic styles in many studies (Eagly & Johnson, 1990). An actual analysis of these styles was conducted by Eagly and Johnson in 1990. The study suggested that men and women did not vary significantly with regard to task oriented style, and a very small tendency of women were more interpersonally oriented than men; however men were clearly more autocratic and directive whereas women were more democratic and participative than men in the study (Eagly & Johnson, 1990).

It is important to note that a democratic and participative style can be very beneficial and productive for organizations. There is no body of research which suggests that an autocratic style is more effective than a democratic one in a large majority of organizations. The success of one style vs. another is largely dependent on the features of an organizational environment (Vroom & Yetton, 1973; Foels, Driskell, Mullen & Salas, 2000).

Prejudice against female leaders and leadership style more often occurs in situations where a position is considered male dominated or thought to require more male oriented stereotypical qualities such as assertiveness, aggressiveness and competitiveness (Eagly & Karau, 2001).

In other studies the following was found: men are more task oriented than women and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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