Studies on the role of gender in leadership success show mixed results.
Discuss the relationship between gender and leadership behavior
Research on leadership differences between men and women shows conflicting results. Some research states that women have a different style of leadership than men, while other studies reveal no major differences in leadership behaviors between the genders.
Areas of study have included perceptions of leadership, leadership styles, leadership practices, and leadership effectiveness.
The sociocultural phenomenon of the division of people into categories of male and female, each having associated clothing, roles, stereotypes, etc.
In many areas of society, men have long dominated leadership positions. This dominance was especially apparent in business, where female members of boards of directors and corporate executives had been scarce. Over the past three decades, however, women have entered more leadership positions throughout industry. The trend has provided an opportunity to examine differences in how men and women perform in the role of leaders.
Research reveals small but significant differences in the way men and women are perceived in leadership roles, their effectiveness in such positions, and their leadership styles. Studies conducted in the 1980s and early 1990s found that women adopt participative styles of leadership and were more often transformational leaders than men, who more commonly adopted directive, transactional styles. Women in management positions tend to demonstrate the importance of communication, cooperation, affiliation, and nurturing more than do men in the same positions. The studies also showed men as more goal- and task-oriented and less relationship- and process-focused than women.
Nonetheless, studies demonstrating distinct leadership styles between men and woman do not represent the final word. Other research has found limited evidence for significant differences between the behaviors of male and female leaders. In 2011, Anderson and Hanson found differences in decision-making styles, but none linked directly to differences in leadership effectiveness. They found no distinction in types or degree of motivation or in leadership styles overall. Other studies show similar results, challenging the notion that leaders' sex shapes their performance as a leader. Management guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter studied men and women in a large corporation and found that differences in their behavior resulted not from gender but from organizational factors. In Kanter's study, men and women, given the same degree of power and opportunity, behaved in similar ways.