Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership How theories of leadership can improve our understanding of gender bias

in leadership.

Introduction Gender bias in leadership, Does it really exist? There are many women who occupy various leadership positions around the world, although, it is evident that there is inequality in sexes occupying those roles (Metcalfe and Altman, 2001), currently, only 2 percent of board members for Fortune 500 companies are held by women (mbcglobal, 2008), this phenomenon as led to various debates in the past on the causes, which as led to assumptions that men and women behave differently, treated differently and are valued differently, implying that those within each category are identical and One category valued as superior to the other, which affects the assignment of organizational responsibilities and most decisions concerning, career progress, resources, salaries, power, authority, appropriate work behaviour (Northouse, 2007, p15-27). This essay draws on theories of leadership that may help explain the reasons for this phenomenon.

Trait theory Through in-dept reading, I determined Trait as a distinguishing feature or quality, which can be observed and measured. It is important to know the benchmarks in measuring leadership traits so as to understand the perceptions of followers. The “Great man” theory by Thomas Carlyle (1841) was the first systematic attempts to benchmark Trait theory, where by Carlyle focused on the innate qualities possessed by great social political, and military leaders (e.g., Mohandas Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Napoleon) (Northouse, 2007, p15), due to either their personal charisma, intelligence and wisdom or Machiavellianism, used power in a way that had a decisive historical impact (Carlyle. 1841). For Prof Paresh Wankhade International Masters in Business Administration (2008) 1

Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership

Carlyle (1841) establishes a generalist masculine benchmark for both genders, reflecting his belief that “Great men” or heroes; highly influential individuals shape history through both their personal attributes and divine inspiration (Hirsch, E.D. 2002). The word “Divine” reflects the perception that it was ordained by a higher authority, which reflects the argument that religions are bias; as they suggest that man was created in Gods image, woman played a supporting role, and Eve led Adam astray, as a research concluded that gender bias in religion has been neither accidental nor superficial (Feminist Philosophy of Religion. 2005). The “Great man” theory suggests that leaders where born with their traits; inherited traits, and people who are effective leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of these traits (Stogdill, 1974). As stated below; Figure 1 Traits Adaptable to situations Alert to social environment Ambitious and achievement-orientated Assertive Cooperative Decisive Dependable Dominant (desire to influence others) Energetic (high activity level) Persistent Self-confident Tolerant of stress Willing to assume responsibility Source: adapted from Stogdill (1974) Skills Clever (intelligent) Conceptually skilled Creative Diplomatic and tactful Fluent in speaking Knowledgeable about group task Organised (administrative ability) Persuasive Socially skilled

McCall and Lombardo (1983) identified four primary traits of successful leadership; For Prof Paresh Wankhade International Masters in Business Administration (2008) 2

Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership Emotional stability and composure: Calm, confident and predictable, mainly when under stress. Contrarily, women are stereotypically perceived as less intelligent, emotional and therefore irrational and physically they do not have the same presence or strength and power of men roles (Metcalfe and Altman, 2001). Trait theory also linked physical characteristics such as weight, height, physique and energy to effective leadership. The term “Great Man” was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of military leadership (Van Wagner, 2009), The emphasis on physical stature and body strength mimics the requirements for law enforcement and military occupations, which indicates why the majority of leaders are men (Metcalfe and Altman, 2001). The “Great man” theory insinuates leaders where born with this traits; “leadership characteristics" due to their psychological makeup (Cromwell and Kolb. 2004), but this was challenged by Stogdill (1948), he acknowledged that situation is what determines leadership, that a leader in one situation might not be a leader in another (Northouse, 2007, p15). If this is true then what situation is best suited for women to be a leader? This question is hard to answer, but recently, due to increasing number of women in leadership positions, journalists have been able to establish that there are gender differences in leadership styles and women are more effective in contemporary societies (Northouse, 2007, p266). A contemporary society is an adage of the 20th century, “contemporary” meaning new, ideologies and situations. To understand these changes we need to look deep into history to see what changes might have occurred. Firstly, Prejudice; meaning a largely fixed attitude, belief, or emotion held by an individual about another individual or group (Northouse, 2007, p304), this implies that how you are treated in a society is determined before your birth. Historically, the strong dominates the week, less developed civilizations are enslaved by the advanced civilizations, and society’s class individuals based on their wealth, race, influence, sex and power, which is explains the proverb “not all fingers are equal”. If this is true then women are the first victims of this phenomenon, as a result, various initiatives have been put in-place (laws and organization), for example; laws- Equality Act 2006 (UK)

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Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership Equality Bill (UK), CEDAW (United Nations, 1979), Gender Equity Education Act (Taiwan), Uniform civil code (India), and Organizations- Government Equalities Office (UK), Afghan Ministry of Women Affairs (Afghanistan), Christians for Biblical Equality, European Institute for Gender Equality. Secondly, Goldstein S. (2001) established sex roles in conflict and peace, “sex” refers to what is biological, and “gender” to what is cultural. He established that biologically, men’s genes program them for violence; testosterone makes men more aggressive than women; men are bigger and stronger than women; men’s brains are adapted for long–distance mobility and for aggression; and women are biologically adapted for care giving roles. As a result, followers perceive men as necessary leaders in times of war (Boyce and Herd, 2003). Marxist theories claimed that when humans lived in matriarchal societies (women held political power) there was relative peace existing, and that the universal probability for war in human society suggests that the gendering of war may matter even in relatively peaceful times and places, because even a society that is not at war may someday go to war (Goldstein S. 2001), but currently there are 12 women world leaders (Current Female World Leaders, 2009), which is a sign of societal change. Finally, the “Patriarchal order”, during the 18th century when “Great man” theory was established women had no to little rights or recognition globally. Until the midnineteenth century, people assumed that a “Patriarchal order” was a natural order that existed, where by men take primary responsibility for the welfare of the community as a whole, acting as representatives of the family (Pdhre. 2005). Women are generally given a lower status in the public sphere and are seen to occupy the domestic sphere by virtue of their reproductive capacities (Metcalfe and Altman, 2001). These are ideologies and concepts that are changing globally, giving rise to contemporary societies.

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Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership Style/ behavioural theory Style approach to leadership emphasizes the behaviour of the leader, which is a perceiver’s perspective (Northouse, 2007, p69-71). Kolb (1997) Research demonstrated that there more similarities than differences in the leadership behaviours of women and men, and that they are equally effective, but the same leadership behaviours are often evaluated more positively when attributed to a male than to a female, consequently, women are less likely to be seen as emerging leaders (Kolb, J. A.1997, p.504). some researchers argued that it was due to an inadequate number of women with the necessary education and managerial experiences present to promote upper level management (Backert R. S. G. 2004), Others believed that perceivers idea of leadership is masculine, where by both genders favour a more masculine approach to leadership, like a study showed that women that are high on the organizational charts are often rated much higher on the masculinity scale than are women in the lower ranks of the organization. (Kolb, J. A. p. 374). Feminine approaches to leadership tend to be more person, rather than task-oriented (Backert R. S. G. 2004) Task-oriented; meaning a more directive approach where the leader spells out the responsibilities of an individual or group which is viewed as a masculine trait (Howes and Stevenson, 1993), In contrast, women approach to leadership is communal, and even when this is effective, they play a supporting role by not acknowledging their contribution (Backert R. S. G. 2004), consequently, increasing the lack of recognition of leadership emergence among women. Eagly & Karau (2002) established that prejudice can arise from the relations that people perceive between the characteristics of members of a social group and the requirements of the social roles that group members occupy or aspire to occupy. The social groups are classed as communal (women) and agentic (men), Women displaying behaviours that violate their prescribed gender role are disliked by others and viewed as less influential (Backert R. S. G. 2004). Perceptions of leaders describe both the descriptive and injunctive norms associated with men and women (Eagly & Karau, 2002) in that the mainstream of these beliefs about the sexes, relates to the supposed communal attributes of women, and the agentic ones for men, and By only performing communal behaviours, women are less For Prof Paresh Wankhade International Masters in Business Administration (2008) 5

Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership likely to be perceived as a leader. Yet, displaying agentic behaviours, the outcome is negative for women and positive for men, in which woman’s influence and likeability is eroded (Backert R. S. G. 2004). Communal attributes relate to being interpersonally sensitive, nurturing, kind, helpful and concerned about the welfare of others. Agentic attributes have to do with being aggressive, forceful, self-confident, and in control (Eagly & Karau, 2002).

Contingency theory Contingency theory is similar to situational theory because there is an assumption of no one right way of leadership, given that the theory takes into consideration the leader's ability to lead based upon various situational factors, including the leader's preferred style, the capabilities and behaviours of followers and also various other situational factors. The main difference between the two theories is that situational theory tends to focus more on the behaviours that the leader should adopt, given situational factors, whereas contingency theory takes a broader view that includes contingent factors about leader capability and other variables within the situation (Northouse, 2007, p113-118). Fiedler (1964) identified the Least Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) scoring for leaders by asking them what they think of a person that they have worked with, then to score the person on a range of scales between positive factors (cooperative, friendly, cheerful, etc.) and negative factors (unfriendly, gloomy, uncooperative, etc.). A high LPC leader normally scores the other person as positive and a low LPC leader scores them as negative (Northouse, 2007, p113-118). Fiedler's (1967) contingency model specifies that performance is dependent on the leader's motivational method and the extent to which the leader controls the situation. The principal effect on group performance is the leader's LPC Score, but this can be interceded by contingent variables of group atmosphere (i.e. leader and members), task structure and position power (Hellriegal et al., 1995, cited in Metcalfe and

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Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership Altman).Three factors are then identified about the leader, member and the task, are as follows: • • • Leader-Member Relations: Degree to which the leader has the support and loyalties of followers and relations with them are friendly and cooperative. Task structure: Degree, to which tasks are standardised, documented and controlled. Leader's Position-power: Degree to which the leader has authority to assess follower performance and give reward or punishment. (Northouse, 2007, p114-116), This LPC theory suggests that the best approach depends on a combination of the three. Normally, a high LPC approach is best when leader-member relations are poor, and low LPC style is best when the task is unstructured and the leader is weak. The major criticism of this theory is that it does not consider the variety of leadership traits found to be related to leadership effectiveness, like self-monitoring; the leader‘s and the follower‘s values, attitudes, and preferences; the cohesiveness, norms, or size of the group; or task, organizational design and culture, or environmental factors that can affect the leadership process. “(Hughes, ET. Al. p. 409), and most importantly is Nothing in the study pointed to gender as being an ingredient for effective leadership, when clearly it is, for example, the concept of 'sexual static' which cover a range of misunderstandings in the workplace which cause discomfort for men and frustration for women, pertaining to role confusion; garbled communication and culture clashes to articulate the differences in men and women's work experiences. Role confusion refers to the conflict between what is the expected role of an individual culturally and their role in a workplace. Communication refers to the differences in male and female communication patterns. Women communicate in a way that exchanges feelings and creates personal relationships. Men communicate to establish their status and show independence. Culture clash conveys the difference between male and female cultural values (Metcalfe and Altman, 2001). The idea of position of power being a factor, which was not related to gender might reflect the masculinity, in the sense that men are characterized by trait as physically having strength and aggressiveness (Van Wagner, 2009), also historically, men where

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Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership dominant in the society, as `...in power, with power, and of power' (Kimmel, 1994 in Telford, 1996, citied in Metcalfe and Altman, 2001).

Conclusion This has been a rewarding, revealing and fascinating research for me. I understand much more clearly now how perceivers view is a major factor affecting leadership, perceivers view is created by the society, which is affected by various cultural factors including history, which generates an accepted unconscious idea of effective leadership. The perceivers are mainly the followers, who conceive what type of leaders they desire and the successes of these leaders are based on follower’s acceptance of the leaders. Based on this phenomenon, unfortunately it has not being to a woman’s advantage, because genetically and historically they have been a victim of exclusion and discrimination, to the point that a view of what characteristics effective leaders have, is the opposite of a woman’s characteristics. Current Leadership theories are outdated and need to be reviewed and followed through with necessary laws, because innate cultures are going to reject such changes, considering that this problem differs in country to country and culture to culture. Some cultures still regard women as inferior and unwanted before birth. Which I strongly believe the world would be better off without, for the benefit of our sisters and mothers and generations to come.

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Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership

References • Backert R. S. G. (2004) A Nonlinear Approach to Gender Bias in Leadership Emergence Perceptions, Thesis submitted to the Faculty of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science In Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Blacksburg, VA 24060, May 27, 2004. • Boyce and Herd (2003); Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, Vol. 49, 2003 “The Relationship between Gender Role Stereotypes and Requisite Military Leadership (18\02\09) • Current (18\02\09) • Carlyle (1841). On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic History. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. [online] http://www.questia.com/read/1444983#|. Accessed (18\02\09) • Cromwell and Kolb (2004), “An examination of work-environment support factors affecting transfer of supervisory skills training to the work place”, Human Resource Development Quarterly, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 449-71. • Eagly, A., Johannesen-Schmidt, M., & van Engen, M. (2003). Female World Leader Count (2009), [online] Accessed Characteristics” [online] Accessed http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=5002020434


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Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership

Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role Congruity Theory of Prejudice Toward Female Leaders. Psychological Review, 109(3), 573-598









http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminist-religion/ Accessed (18\02\09) • Fiedler, F.E. (1964). A contingency model of leadership effectiveness. In L. Berkowitz (end), Advances in experimental social psychology, NY: • Fiedler, F. E (1967). A theory of leadership effectiveness. New York: McGrawHill • Goldstein S. (2001) War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa (Cambridge University Press, September 2001) [online] http://www.warandgender.com/wgch1.htm Accessed (18\02\09) • Hirsch, E.D. (2002) The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Third Edition), Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2002. • Hogue M. and Lord R. G (2007) A multilevel, complexity theory approach to understanding gender bias in leadership, The Leadership Quarterly 18 (2007) 370-390 • Hughes, Gannett, & Murphy. 1993: Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience. Richard D. Irwin, INC, p. 409 • Heilman, M., Block, C., Martell, R., & Simon, M. (1989). Has anything changed? Current characterizations of men, women, and managers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 935-942. • Howes and Stevenson, 1993. Women and the Use of Military Force. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. For Prof Paresh Wankhade International Masters in Business Administration (2008) 10

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leadership[online]http://www.mbcglobal.org/2008/09/survey-shows-genderbias-in-leadership.html Accessed (18\02\09) • Northouse (2007), Leadership: Theory and Practice, 4thed, Peter. G. Northouse, sage publications, 2007. US. • Pdhre (2005) Invitation for comments to develop the content and agenda of a Conference at the WSF: "Transforming the Patriarchal Order to human rights System" [online] http://www.pdhre.org/patriarchy.html. Accessed (18\02\09) • Stogdill, R. M. (1948). Personal factors associated with leadership: a survey of the literature, journal of physiology, 25, 35-71 • Stogdill, R. M. (1974) hand book of leadership: a survey of theory and research, New York: free press

For Prof Paresh Wankhade International Masters in Business Administration (2008)


Leadership theories and gender bias in leadership • Van Wagner (2009), About.com “Leadership Theories”

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