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The topic of leadership has been addressed and applied for millennia. Yet, it is only within the past 80 years that leadership has been a topic of serious discussion. It is important to understand variables relevant to effective leadership. Gender is one such variable that must be examined with regard to optimizing leadership effectiveness. The topic of gender and leadership deserves serious and thoughtful consideration and discussion because of professional, political, cultural, and personal realities of the twenty‐first century. Women and men have been, are, and should be leaders. Gender must be considered to determine how each leader can reach maximum potential and effectiveness. The FourCe‐PITO conceptual framework of leadership is designed to help guide leadership development and education. The present chapter uses this conceptual framework of leadership to discuss how consideration of gender may affect and optimize leadership development and effectiveness. It is the goal of this chapter to lay out the issues that educators of leaders, potential leaders, and “practicing” leaders should be aware of, to achieve success for the good of the groups and individuals they have the responsibility to lead. Leadership has been a part of human experience since people formed groups to survive threats from the environment, dangerous animals, and other groups of people; work cooperatively to achieve goals beyond the abilities of individuals; and create families and various social groups to satisfy affiliative needs. Discussions of leaders and leadership appear as far back as Homer's Iliad and in religious texts, including the Old Testament, New Testament, Bhagavad Gita, and Koran. Essays and discussions of leaders and leadership have appeared during the past several centuries. But, the scholarly study of leadership dates back only about 80 years, when social psychologist Kurt Lewin and his students began studying group dynamics and differentiated among authoritarian, democratic, and laissez‐faire leadership styles [1]. Most discussions about leaders and leadership from antiquity through the 1970s focused on men, with minimal discussion of women as leaders or gender and leadership. Social, cultural, and political developments over the past 50 years have made clear that men and women can be effective—and ineffective—leaders and today, men and women are expected to be effective leaders.
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Chapter 8
Gender and Leadership
Kathryn E. Eklund, Erin S. Barry and Neil E. Grunberg
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter
http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/65457
Provisional chapter
Gender and Leadership
Kathryn E. Eklund, Erin S. Barry and Neil E. Grunberg
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter
Abstract
The topic of leadership has been addressed and applied for millennia. Yet, it is only
within the past 80 years that leadership has been a topic of serious discussion. It is
important to understand variables relevant to effective leadership. Gender is one such
variable that must be examined with regard to optimizing leadership effectiveness. The
topic of gender and leadership deserves serious and thoughtful consideration and dis-
cussion because of professional, political, cultural, and personal realities of the twenty
first century. Women and men have been, are, and should be leaders. Gender must be
considered to determine how each leader can reach maximum potential and effective-
ness. The FourCePITO conceptual framework of leadership is designed to help guide
leadership development and education. The present chapter uses this conceptual frame-
work of leadership to discuss how consideration of gender may affect and optimize
leadership development and effectiveness. It is the goal of this chapter to lay out the
issues that educators of leaders, potential leaders, and practicingleaders should be
aware of, to achieve success for the good of the groups and individuals they have the
responsibility to lead.
Keywords: gender, leadership, FourCePITO, character, competence, context, commu-
nication, personal, interpersonal, team, organizational
1. Introduction
Leadership has been a part of human experience since people formed groups to survive threats
from the environment, dangerous animals, and other groups of people; work cooperatively to
achieve goals beyond the abilities of individuals; and create families and various social groups
to satisfy affiliative needs. Discussions of leaders and leadership appear as far back as Homer's
Iliad and in religious texts, including the Old Testament,New Testament,Bhagavad Gita, and
Koran. Essays and discussions of leaders and leadership have appeared during the past several
centuries. But, the scholarly study of leadership dates back only about 80 years, when social
psychologist Kurt Lewin and his students began studying group dynamics and differentiated
among authoritarian, democratic, and laissezfaire leadership styles [1]. Most discussions
© The Author(s). Licensee InTech. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and eproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2017 The Author(s). Licensee InTech. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
about leaders and leadership from antiquity through the 1970s focused on men, with minimal
discussion of women as leaders or gender and leadership. Social, cultural, and political devel-
opments over the past 50 years have made clear that men and women can be effectiveand
ineffectiveleaders and today, men and women are expected to be effective leaders.
To optimize leadership effectiveness of men and women, it is important to go beyond
consideration of the biological sex of the individual and simplistic generalizations of what
makes a male leader versus a female leader successful. It is important to consider if and how
gender relates to leadership. Gender is an individual difference characteristic that is relevant
to how people think about themselves, are thought about by others, and act in various
situations. Gender, therefore, is relevant to consider with regard to how it relates to leader-
ship effectiveness.
This chapter begins with only a brief discussion of genderbecause the entire volume
addresses gender and the other chapters discuss genderin greater detail. Then, the FourCe
PITO conceptual framework of leadership [1] is summarized to provide a foundation for the
discussion of gender and leadership. FourCePITO provides a comprehensive way to catalog
and examine interacting elements of leadership and is designed to guide leadership scholar-
ship, education, and development. The chapter addresses gender in the context of the FourCe
PITO framework. The chapter ends with a summary and a conclusion.
2. Gender
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “‘Sexrefers to the biological and phys-
iological characteristics that define men and women. Genderrefers to the socially constructed
roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men
and women[2].
Since the 1970s, researchers have noted the need to differentiate between sex and gender [3, 4].
Sex is defined as a biological characteristic that incorporates the anatomical, physiological,
genetic, and hormonal variation that exists in species [5]. Historically, conceptualizations of sex
assumed XX and XY chromosomal arrangements for females and males, respectively; however
we now understand that chromosomal configurations XXX, XXY, XYY, and XO exist as well as
XY males and XX females [6, 7]. The discovery and existence of these various chromosomal
arrangements have led to greater understanding of the X and Y chromosomes, their genetic
contributions, and have resulted in the expansion of our conceptualization of sex and gender.
Gender is a multidimensional construct that refers to different roles, responsibilities, limita-
tions, and experiences of individuals based on their presenting sex and/or gender [5]. Bem [3]
defined gender (i.e., extent of masculinity and/or femininity) as pertaining to the psychosocial
ramifications of biological sex (i.e., whether an individual is male or female) [8]. Generally,
gender is operationalized by observing the behavior of men and women or by asking partici-
pants to selfreport whether they are male or female [9]. Gender, however, consists of much
more than the psychosocial ramifications of biological sex. Gender is a complex phenomenon
Gender Differences in Different Contexts130
with many different facets [10]. These facets include gender schemas and stereotypes; gender
role identity; and genderrole traits, attitudes, and values [11].
Sandra Bem pioneered the Gender Schema Theory in 1981 to explain sex typing and gender
stereotypes within the society. Bem [12] proposed that this process begins in childhood.
Children learn which behaviors and attributes are associated with each sex and continue to
process the information in terms of gender schema. While parents can teach more androgy-
nous views at home (such as modeling equal roles for mothers and fathers, preventing access
to media that promotes sextyping, etc.), children are often exposed to sextyping when
attending school, including day care settings. Bem [13] suggested that parents should teach a
sexism schema so that children recognize when sexist information or practices are occurring.
She believed this practice is likely to help prevent children from mindlessly maintaining a
particular gender schema and, as a result, will promote positive social change [13].
Sex typing creates a core gender identity influenced by how one is raised, the media, and other
cultural influences. Bem identified four categories of sex typing: sextyped, crosssextyped,
androgynous, and undifferentiated. She defined sextyped individuals as people who process
and integrate information consistent with their gender; crosssextyped individuals as people
who process and integrate information consistent with the opposite gender; androgynous indi-
viduals as people who process and integrate traits and information from both genders; undiffer-
entiated individuals as people who do not appear to process sextyped information [12].
Why do specific gender stereotypes become so ingrained in our societies? Bem [12] suggested
that the Gender Schema Theory leads children, especially during adolescence, to conform to
what is culturally defined for males and females, because it is easier to assimilate society's
stereotypically congruent norms. As a process theory, the Gender Schema Theory further
solidifies the gender stereotypes within societies. A heterosexual subschema, defining differ-
ences between proper societal benchmarks of masculinity and femininity, encourage the strong
gender schema developed in societies. This subschema asserts that men and women should be
different from each other and many societies use the heterosexual subschema as the norm.
Bem [12] hypothesized that crosssex interactions more readily take on gender stereotypes,
especially in social settings, and people behave differently toward individuals of the opposite
sex when they find them attractive or unattractive.
As societal norms are changing, with the acceptance of samesex relationships and gender
fluidity, gender stereotypes are evolving as well. Lee and KashubeckWest [14] used confirma-
tory factor analyses to analyze four ethnic groups (African American, Asian American, European
American, and Hispanic American) of young American adults. The analyses indicated that the
twofactor differentiation proposed by Bem (i.e., masculine/feminine) did not fit men or women
from any of the ethnic groups in a simple binary fashion. Donnelly and Twenge [15] reported
that women's femininity scores, using the Bem SexRole Inventory, decreased significantly from
1993 to 2012, whereas their masculinity scores remained constant. The scores for men did not
change significantly during this 20year time period. When the period of time was expanded
from 1974 to 2012, women's selfreports of masculinity rose significantly during this time frame,
with no significant change in selfreported femininity. Men's masculinity and femininity scores
remained constant during this broader time frame. Women's androgyny scores significantly
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131
increased since 1974 (but not since 1993), whereas men's androgyny scores remained constant.
These findings may suggest that since the 1990s, women are less likely to endorse typical
feminine traits, and/or the scale is not sensitive to modern gender stereotypes [15].
Gender also includes the manner in which individuals interact with each other and the social
roles they are expected to fulfill in a society [9, 16]. In addition, ideas regarding gender are
culturally and temporally specific and subject to change. Historically, men's higher social
status within many cultures meant that they also have had more opportunities and access to
power and resources than women have had and, as a result, men have been afforded more
power and influence [17, 18]. Relatively recent changes in views, selfidentity, and acceptance
of varied gender roles (regardless of biological sex) make consideration of gender and leader-
ship a topic worthy of discussion. Before discussing gender and leadership per se, leadership is
defined and the FourCePITO conceptual framework for leadership is explained.
3. Leadership
There are many ways to finish the sentence, Leadership is...In fact, an online search for the
definition of leadership yields more than 128,000,000 results. Over the past century, the defini-
tion of leadership has evolved from the ability to impress the will of the leader on those led
and induce obedience, respect, loyalty, and cooperation[19] to the enhancement of behav-
iors (actions), cognitions (thoughts and beliefs), and motivations (reasons for actions and
thoughts) to achieve goals that benefit individuals and groups[1]. It is noteworthy that
concepts of effective leadership have shifted emphasis from whothe leader is to whatthe
leader does. Who the leader is remains important and is highly relevant to the present discus-
sion of gender and leadership. The focus on relationships, influence, and outcomes allows for
substantial individual differences and characteristics of effective leaders provided that they are
aware of how to accomplish effective leadership. Effective leaders are aspirational and inspi-
rational.
3.1. FourCePITO framework
Callahan and Grunberg [1] considered many models of leadership to identify a conceptual
framework for leader education and development, including authentic, democratic, laissez
faire, transactional, transformational, servant, authoritative, and adaptive leadership. Callahan
and Grunberg [1] found value in all of these models and identified four leadership domains to
capture key elements of all of these models: Character, Competence, Context, and Communi-
cation. These four C's (FourCe) occur across four different psychological levelsPersonal,
Interpersonal, Team, and Organizational (PITO). The PITO levels were adapted from the
leadership training model developed at the United States Air Force Academy [20, 21].
The FourCePITO leadership framework considers the four domains across the four levels.
Character includes all characteristics of the individualphysical (e.g., sex, race, age,
appearance) and psychological (e.g., gender, personality, values, outlooks, attributes). Com-
petence includes transcendent leadership skills (e.g., high emotional intelligence, critical
and strategic thinking, leading by example, motivating and empowering others) and
Gender Differences in Different Contexts132
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characteristics such as confidence, assertiveness, independence, rationality, and decisiveness;
whereas women are stereotyped with communal characteristics such as concern for others,
sensitivity, warmth, helpfulness, and nurturance [28]. These gender stereotypes of women as
warm, nurturing, and caring and the corresponding stereotypes of men as cold, competitive,
and authoritarian may have contributed to the perception by some that women may be less
effective than men in leadership positions although they can be, in fact, equally effective [29,
30]. It is noteworthy that any generalizations about men versus women as effective leaders
based on sex or gender reveal an emphasis on the Character domain of leadership. Interest-
ingly, Eagly et al. [30] found that men and women are equally effective leaders, unless the
leadership role is gendered(i.e., people expect the leader to be a man or a woman). In that
case, leaders of the expected gender and sex are more effective. This finding is further
discussed under Context and Genderbecause the social role expectations and the context
in which the leadership takes place influence leader effectiveness.
With regard to how leadership characteristics are gendered, research indicates that traditional
managerial effectiveness (e.g., time efficient, performance focused) often is sextyped as mas-
culine (i.e., agentic as opposed to communal). This means that characteristics deemed neces-
sary to be a successful manager or an effective leader have often been stereotypically
associated with men [31, 32]. Schein and Mueller [33] and Schein et al. [34] reported that
individuals perceive successful managers as having characteristics more often held by men
than by women, and the expectation that successful managers will possess masculine traits is
stronger among men than among women.
In leadership roles that transcend managerial roles, gender stereotypes may be particularly
challenging for women because agentic, as opposed to communal, tendencies often are valued.
According to the Role Congruity Theory [35], the agentic qualities thought necessary in the
leadership role are incompatible with the predominantly communal qualities stereotypically
associated with women, resulting in a prejudicial evaluation of the behavior of women leaders
as less effective or unfavorable than the equivalent behavior of men. For example, the more
agentically a leader role is defined (e.g., military officer, political leader, or scientist) or the
more completely women fulfill its agentic requirements, the more likely such women are to
elicit unfavorable evaluation because their behavior deviates from the social norm of the
female gender role [35]. Therefore, in leadership roles, women are confronted with opposing
pressures: as leaders they should possess agentic qualities (i.e., masculine characteristics), but
as women, they should not be too manly.Therefore, women may receive more positive
reactions if they include in their repertoire behaviors that are more communal (e.g., expressive,
friendly, and participative), as long as these behaviors are not viewed as inappropriate for the
leader role [35, 36].
4.1.2. Leadership style
Another consideration concerning the interaction of character and gender on leadership effec-
tiveness is leadership style. Callahan and Grunberg [1] indicate that personality affects the
leader's preferred leadership style and gender also is likely to affect preferred leadership style.
Many different leadership styles have been identified over the years. In this chapter, we focus
Gender Differences in Different Contexts134
on those taskoriented versus interpersonally oriented styles identified by Bales [37] and
leadership styles discussed by Lewin and Lippitt [38].
Tas k oriented leadership style is defined as a concern with accomplishing assigned tasks by
organizing taskrelevant activities. Interpersonally-oriented leadership style is defined as a
concern with maintaining interpersonal relationships by tending to othersmorale and wel-
fare [37, 39]. These leadership styles can be categorized as agentic versus communal styles of
leadership, respectively. Behaviors of the taskoriented style include: encouraging followers
to follow rules, maintaining high standards for performance, and making leader and fol-
lower roles explicit [40]. Behaviors of the interpersonally-oriented style include: helping and
doing favors for subordinates, looking out for their welfare, explaining procedures, and
being friendly and available [40]. Male gender is commonly associated with agentic style,
whereas female gender is commonly associated with communal style. Both styles can be
effective, depending on the followers and the situation. Understanding one's own gender
and which leadership style is more comfortable can help optimize one's effectiveness as a
leader.
Another way to distinguish leadership styles is the classic distinction of democratic (participa-
tive decisionmaking) versus autocratic (directive) versus laissezfaire (little or no direction)
leadership as identified by Lewin and Lippitt [38]. This spectrum is relevant to the consider-
ation of gender roles, because a component of agentic norms implies that men are more
autocratic and directive, whereas women are more participative and democratic [39]. It has
been suggested that the extent to which female leaders favor a more participative rather than
directive leadership style may reflect cultural influences based on expected roles of women
versus men [35]. Women may encounter negative reactions and evaluations when they become
directive and take charge in an agentic manner consistent with an autocratic style [39]. Because
men probably do not experience the same incongruence between the male gender role and the
leader role, they may be freer to lead in an autocratic manner. The fact is that each of these
leadership styles has its place. If gender roles limit one's leadership style options, then effec-
tiveness of leadership is constrained.
Other leadership scholars [41, 42] have examined distinctions between transformational leader-
ship styles versus transactional leadership styles. Burns [42] defined transformational leaders as
setting high standards for behavior and establishing themselves as inspirational role models by
gaining trust and confidence of followers. Transformational leaders set future aspirational goals
and motivate followers to achieve these goals. By mentoring followers, transformational leaders
encourage followers to reach their full potential. In contrast, Burns [42] defined transactional
leaders as those who establish exchange relationships with their followers and emphasize behav-
iors or actions. Transactional leaders clarify subordinatesroles and responsibilities, monitor
work, praise followers when they meet objectives, and correct them when failing to do so.
Transformational leadership, more than transactional, has communal aspects, whereby the
leader is focused on mentoring and developing followers. Consistent with the possibility that
the transformational leader role may be more aligned with the female gender role, research
indicates that subordinates perceive greater continuity between leadersfeminine personality
traits and a transformational style rather than a transactional style [43, 44]. Of note, however,
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women are more likely than men to utilize the contingent award component (i.e., reinforcement
or punishment) of transactional leadership than men [44].
Regarding leadership effectiveness, Eagly et al. [44] found transformational leadership and the
contingent award component of transactional leadership to be effective, with null or ineffective
findings for transactional leadership alone. This difference may be relevant to the leadership
effectiveness of people who use communal and supportive leadership styles.
4.2. Character, Gender, and PITO
Gender is a core element of Character and includes selfperception of Gender as well as
perception of Gender by others. Therefore, with regard to Character and Leadership, Gender
needs to be considered and is relevant across all four levels of PITO. Gender affects our self
perception (Personal), perception of us by other people in dyads (Interpersonal), small groups
(Team), and large groups or systems (Organizational). It is necessary for one to have self
awareness (Personal) of Gender. When other people are involved (be it Interpersonal, Team,
or Organizational), it is important for one to be selfaware and to understand perception of self
by others to determine how to best lead.
5. Competence
Callahan and Grunberg [1] refer to competence as the abilities, skills, and knowledge relevant
to leadership that transcend various roles, professions, and responsibilities, and to abilities,
skills, and knowledge specific to particular roles, professions, and responsibilities of relevance
to the leadership position.Leaders need to have both practical and working knowledge
specific to their role as well as transcendent leadership competencies. Transcendent leadership
competencies include management skills, critical thinking, decision making, problem solving,
emotional intelligence, relational skills, and the ability to influence other people [1].
Effective leaders influence people and often demonstrate excellent management skills so that
followers perform optimally, work as a team, and make best use of resources, including
personnel, supplies, equipment, and time [1]. Levitt [45] indicated, management consists of a
rational assessment of the situation, and the systematic selection of goals and purposes; the
systematic development of strategies to achieve these goals; the marshaling of the required
resources; the rational design, organization, direction, and control of the activities required to
attain the selected purposes; and finally, the motivating and rewarding of people to do their
work.Although management is important to leadership, leadership competencies go beyond
management skills [1].
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive and express emotions, to use
emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and reason with emotions, and to effectively
manage emotions within oneself and in relationships with others [46]. Goleman [47, 48] takes a
broader approach to emotional intelligence, suggesting that it consists of personal and social
competencies. Personal competence consists of selfawareness, confidence, selfregulation,
conscientiousness, and motivation. Social competence consists of empathy and social skills
Gender Differences in Different Contexts136
such as communication and conflict management [47, 48]. The Hay-McBer group found that
leaders with greater emotional intelligence competence were more influential than people
who lacked this competence [49]. It is important to note that although individuals have
different naturalemotional intelligence, Callahan and Grunberg [1] catalog this construct as
a Competence (rather than part of Character) because it can be learned and developed.
The art of influence is a leadership competency that is largely tied to the perception of
leadership by others [1]. A leader's influence is the ability to motivate followers to change their
behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes [50]. Yukl and Chavez [51] identified nine influence tactics that
a leader may use to influence followers: inspirational appeal (i.e., when the leader seeks to gain
commitment by arousing emotions), rational persuasion (i.e., when the leader uses logical
arguments and facts to influence a decision), consultation (i.e., when the leader seeks the target
personsparticipation in the decision making process), ingratiation (i.e., when the leader uses
praise or flattery to win over), personal appeal (i.e., when the leader uses an interpersonal
relationship between the leader and the target person to carry out a task), exchange (i.e., when
the leader offers an incentive or exchange for compliance), coalition tactics (i.e., when the
leader uses the aid of other already complying individuals to gain support of the target
person), legitimating tactics (i.e., when the leader refers to rules or formal policies to prove he
or she has legitimate authority), and pressure (i.e., when the leader intimidates the target
person to comply with their requests) [51].
Effective leadership also depends on relationship skills. In transformational leadership roles,
relationships between leaders and followers are marked by a high degree of mutual trust,
respect, understanding, and obligation toward each other. There is a high degree of reciprocity
between leaders and followers; each affects and is affected by the other [36, 52].
5.1. Gender and Competence
As previously discussed, Callahan and Grunberg [1] define competence as the abilities, skills,
and knowledge that transcend various leader roles, and the specific abilities, skills, and knowl-
edge relevant to a particular leader role. This section focuses on emotional intelligence and the
art of influence.
5.1.1. Emotional intelligence
Numerous studies [5356] have indicated that emotional intelligence is an important compo-
nent of leadership. Emotional intelligence increases the confidence of individuals and helps
leaders and followers achieve levels of performance beyond expectations, especially when
coupled with transformational leadership that emphasizes emotions and motivation [57].
Emotionally intelligent leaders are reported to be happier and more committed to their orga-
nizations [58], attain greater success [59], perform better [48, 60, 61], and understand their and
othersemotions to improve decisionmaking and instill enthusiasm, trust, and cooperation
among followers through interpersonal relationships [62].
A review of sex, gender, and emotional intelligence offers mixed findings [63]. Some research
indicates that women may have slightly higher levels of emotional intelligence compared to
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men [64, 65]. However, BarOn [66] reported no significant differences between men and
women regarding overall emotional intelligence. He did find gender differences for some
components of emotional intelligence; however, Goleman [60] found none. Because of the
mixed results regarding gender differences in emotional intelligence and research supporting
the utility of emotional intelligence for effective research, improving one's emotional intelli-
gence will be beneficial for leadership, regardless of gender.
5.1.2. The art of influence
A leader's influence can be defined as the ability to motivate followers to change or enhance
their behaviors, cognitions, or motivations to achieve goals that benefit the individual or the
group. Influence is often considered to be a measuring stick of a leader's effectiveness.
According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model [67], source characteristics (e.g., leader charac-
teristics), such as expertise, power, and personal appeal or likeability, are important determi-
nants of influence. Generally, leaders who have expertise and are likeable tend to exert greater
influence than those without expertise who are unlikeable [68].
The characteristics of competence and likeability as contributors of influence have particular
applicability to gender because stereotypically, women are often characterized as possessing
likeable qualities and men are often characterized as possessing competent qualities [69].
People who are predominantly feminine in gender style may find themselves in a double bind
when it comes to leadership and the incongruity between the stereotypical leader role and the
female gender role. Women's ability to influence is often dependent on the ability to overcome
this double bind, whereas men usually do not experience the social pressure to be both
communal and agentic [70].
Men's historical predominance in high status roles has resulted in men generally possessing
higher levels of status than women [69]. Gender differences in status are important determi-
nants of influence because it relates to the perceived competency of the individual. Status
Characteristics Theory [71] states that an individual's status can be used implicitly to form
performance expectations of self and others. People presume that higher status individuals
have more competence than lower status individuals and are more likely to yield to the
influence of the high status individual [72]. In addition, individuals perceived as higher status
are more likely to engage in agentic behaviors and are perceived as more influential [69].
Similar to previously discussed theories, Status Characteristics Theory predicts greater com-
munal behavior by women and agentic behavior by men [69]. Because men historically have
higher status, they have greater legitimacy as influence agents and are encouraged to behave
agentically. On the other hand, because of their presumed low competence, low status individ-
uals who exhibit agentic behaviors may be perceived as attempting to illegitimately gain
power and influence and, as a result, their influence is likely to be resisted [69, 73]. To
overcome this potential resistance, lower status individuals must communicate a lack of
personal gain and little desire to control, but instead convey a relational and collectivist
motivation (i.e., utilize communal behaviors; [74]) to be most effective. It follows then that
communal behavior should enhance the influence of people who are perceived to have lower
status.
Gender Differences in Different Contexts138
5.2. Competence, Gender, and PITO
Gender is not a core aspect of Competence. Therefore, Competence should be judged across
the four levels of PITO regardless of Gender. However, cultural biases often color interpreta-
tion of competencies based on sex and Gender. For example, outstanding performance in
athletic events by men is usually attributed to the male athletes themselves. In contrast, similar
outstanding performance in athletic events by women is often attributed to their male coaches.
A leader should be competent and have the abilities, skills, and knowledge necessary to
perform the jobs effectively. The Gender of the leader should not define a leader's competence
on the Personal, Interpersonal, Team, or Organizational levels. Yet, because Gender biases may
affect perception of Competence in self and others, it is important to be aware of any Gender
related biases that contribute to misperceptions about Competence and to, instead, focus on
each Competence per se.
6. Context
According to Callahan and Grunberg [1], context includes physical, psychological, social, and
economic environments, as well as various situations (e.g., stress). The leadership context is
characterized by three categories: the unique characteristics of the group being led, the nature
of the group's tasks, and the organizational climate/culture where the leadership happens [75].
Age, gender, individual characteristics, and culture are important contextual factors. Effective
leaders are aware of and adjust to context in a variety of ways. Ayman and Adams [75]
proposed that leaders can learn to alter behaviors, to adapt so they are perceived as behaving
differently, or to actively manage and change the situation.
6.1. Gender and Context
With regard to gender and context, the most apparent, relevant research literature focuses on
psychological and social context. Theories underlying this research vary from Androgyny
Theory [3] to Status Characteristics Theory [17]. However, the most common theoretical posi-
tions that underlie the study of gender and leadership with regard to psychological and social
context are the intrapsychic perspective, the social structural perspective, and the interpersonal
perspective [9].
6.1.1. Intrapsychic perspective
According to the intrapsychic perspective, the leader's intrapsychic genderrole characteristics
(e.g., masculinity/agency/instrumentality and femininity/expressivity/communion) matter
because they affect the leader's preferred style, behavior, and outcomes regardless of whether
the leader is a man or a woman [9].
6.1.2. Social structural perspective
The social structural perspective posits that the qualitative differences in men's and women's
normative roles affect their leadership behavior and outcomes. Gender is important because of
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the common perception that male gender roles are more congruent with the leadership role
than are female gender roles. This perception may contribute to prejudice against women
leaders [9, 35]. Men are commonly attributed higher status and are more likely to be in
leadership roles congruent with their sociodemographic status and gender [9]. In contrast,
women are commonly perceived as having lower status and the leadership role may be
viewed as less congruent with their sociodemographic status and gender [9].
6.1.3. Interpersonal perspective
The interpersonal perspective focuses on how leaders interact with superiors, coworkers, and
subordinates. This perspective incorporates aspects of both the intrapsychic and social struc-
tural perspectives because interactions are viewed as a function of sociodemographic gender
stereotypes, genderrelated beliefs, expectations about the self and others, and situational cues.
Accordingly, gender makes a difference because men and women have different types of social
interactions with their male and female supervisors, peers, and subordinates, and these inter-
actions influence outcomes [9].
6.2. Context and leadership styles
A metaanalysis conducted by Eagly and Johnson [76] suggested that several factors in the
organizational context moderate the emergence and direction of gender differences in leader-
ship styles. One of the largest moderators is the sex composition of the organization. Differ-
ences between male and female leaders in democratic and autocratic styles are significantly
reduced in maledominated groups than in femaledominated groups. This finding suggests
that female and male leaders use styles more congruent with the gendertyping of the context
[29, 76].
In addition, context and leaders can be viewed from an interactionist perspective (i.e., context
and leaders reciprocally influence each other) [77]. In other words, context constrains which
behaviors are considered prototypical [78, 79]. The strongerthe situation, the more salient
are norms that guide behavior [80]. For example, in the military strict rules and procedures
and strong norms produce overdetermined behavior (strong situation), whereas relatively
weak situations produce substantial variation in individual behavior [81]. Of note, not only
do individuals behave as the situation demands, but they have selected particular environ-
ments and are active players in shaping the environments [82], particularly when they are
leaders [83].
6.3. Gender and stress
In addition to psychological and social context, it is important to consider how stressful a
situation is and whether stress affects behaviors of individuals as well as interactions among
people. Stress is defined as a process by which environmental events threaten or challenge an
organism's wellbeing and how the organism responds to the threat[84]. With regard to
gender and stress, it is relevant to recognize that there are three major stress responses: the
FightorFlight response [85], the Polyvagal Theory [86], and the TendandBefriend response
[87]. The FightorFlight response is demonstrated by all mammals, regardless of sex or
Gender Differences in Different Contexts140
gender, but has sometimes been considered a more masculineresponse (perhaps related to
sex and/or gender). The Polyvagal Theory refers to the freezing response (frozen with fear)
or playing deadthat mammals display when encountered with an inescapable predator or
stressor, with no apparent sex or gender differences in this response. The TendandBefriend
response has been offered as a description of a predominantly feminineresponse (that can
be demonstrated by females and males) to threat by protecting vulnerable individuals and by
responding to stressors by seeking others for social collaboration and mutual protection. Males
and females of masculine and feminine genders display all three of the major stress responses,
but the relative magnitude of these stress responses appears to be related to sex and gender.
6.4. Context, Gender, and PITO
Gender is often a key aspect of Context, including, psychological context, social context, and
situational stress. Context and Gender operate at all PITO levels of interaction. Cultural
differences in Gender roles and biases as well as psychobiological differences in relative extent
to which each of the three stress responses operate are likely to contribute to interactions
among Context and Gender with regard to leadership. Selfawareness of these processes may
help to optimize leadership effectiveness.
7. Communication
In most leadership models, communication is identified as a critical element. Communication
is defined as the sending and receiving of information, verbally (oral and written words) and
nonverbally (including tone of voice, intonation, facial expressions, body language) [1]. Receiv-
ing information involves listening to verbal language as well as absorbing nonverbal informa-
tion. Sending information similarly occurs verbally, through spoken words or written text, and
nonverbally through the sender's facial expressions, body language, and nonverbal aspects of
oral communication [1].
Effective leadership also depends on effective listening, reflecting respect, and a willingness to
be involved with others [1]. Information gathered through activelistening, strong relation-
ships with the group, and strong communication skills is used to make informed decisions
relevant to the individual and the group. It is the role of leaders to develop relationships with
individuals and create positive and supportive communication environments [1, 88].
In addition, the communicator needs to be perceived as credible, trustworthy, and knowledge-
able about the information being conveyed [1]. The most effective communication takes into
consideration primacy, recency, repetition, clarity, and relevance of information. Furthermore,
addressing opposing opinions, memorable imagery, and consistency of nonverbal information
and verbal content all add to persuasive and effective communication [8992].
7.1. Gender and Communication
Individuals employ different communication styles [9395]. Feminine communication has
been described as more indirect, elaborate, and emotional, whereas masculine communication
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141
has been described as more direct, succinct, and instrumental [94, 96]. The feminine linguistic
style can help to establish rapport and encourage conversation and comfortable exchange of
information, but it also can be interpreted as uncertainty, tentativeness, and a lack of authority
[9799].
Stereotypically masculine characteristics (such as assertiveness and selfreliance) are often seen
as components of effective leadership [32, 100]. Women who use a femininecommunication
style may be considered less competent than men in leadership roles [35, 101] and can be rated
less favorably when competing for leadership positions [28, 102]. As a result, women's compe-
tence in leadership is often undervalued based on communication style, in part because of
genderbased stereotypes [28, 35]. Because female leaders are not considered to be as effective
communicators as male leaders [103, 104], women's communication style may reinforce the
stereotype that they are less competent than men in a leadership position. In contrast, when
women use more masculinecommunication styles, they may be perceived as pushy or
arrogant, depending on context. Similarly, men who use more femininecommunication
styles may be perceived as weak or lacking confidence.
It is important to note, however, that linguists and communication experts have not reached
agreement about whether there are truly differences in communication based on sex or gender.
Tannen [105] proposed that there are sex differences in communication style that are learned
within a given culture. Gray [106] argued that there are marked sex differences in communi-
cation style, both sending and receiving. In contrast, Cameron [107] argued against Gray's
binary distinction and proposed that gender and communication should be considered in
more complex and nuanced ways.
7.2. Communication, Gender, and PITO
Gender and Communication has a complex interaction. It often seems that interpretation and
reactions to different Communication styles are affected by the Gender of the senderand of
the Gender of the receiversof the communication. It also seems that Context plays an
important role in the Gender by Communication interaction. The research literature and
relevant scholars have not yet reached consensus on this complex issue. With regard to
Communication, Gender, and PITO, it seems likely that the same complexity of interaction
operates such that the level of interaction affects whether Communications are differentially
interpreted based on Gender. Despite this lack of clear conclusion, it seems important to
consider that Gender likely affects how Communication is interpreted, especially at the Inter-
personal, Team, and Organizational levels.
8. Summary and conclusion
The topic of gender and leadership deserves serious and thoughtful consideration and discus-
sion because of professional, political, social, and personal realities of the twentyfirst century.
Science and society have come to appreciate that women and men cannot simply be classified
and distinguished based on biological sex. Instead, gender is a more complex and meaningful
Gender Differences in Different Contexts142
way to understand individual differences. The present chapter uses the FourCePITO concep-
tual framework to discuss how gender relates to the leadership domains of Character, Compe-
tence, Context, and Communication across the Personal, Interpersonal, Team, and
Organizational levels of interaction. We believe that it is important to understand and appre-
ciate how gender may contribute to selfperception and perception by others and that this
understanding has the potential to help optimize leadership effectiveness.
Acknowledgements
The opinions and assertions contained herein are the sole ones of the authors and are not to be
construed as reflecting the views of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences,
the Department of Defense, or the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of
Military Medicine. We thank Hannah Kleber for her suggestions.
Author details
Kathryn E. Eklund
1
, Erin S. Barry
2,3
and Neil E. Grunberg
1,2
*
*Address all correspondence to: neil.grunberg@usuhs.edu
1 Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Uniformed Services University of the
Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA
2 Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the
Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA
3 Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, MD,
USA
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... The Hay-McBer research group (Goleman, 2000) found that with greater emotional intelligence came greater leaders, and Callahan and Grunberg believe this skill can be learned and developed (2016). The literature tends to agree with this statement, with some studies claiming that women had slightly higher levels of emotional intelligence and others arguing that no gender differences existed when assessing levels of emotional intelligence (Eklund, Barry, & Grunberg, 2017). ...
... However, when women take on a more "masculine" style, they can be perceived as pushy or arrogant. In the same way, men who use a more "feminine" style of communicating may be seen as weak or lacking confidence (Eklund, Barry, & Grunberg, 2017). This paradox led to the writing of this article. ...
... Rather, we focus upon their gender which is a multifaceted, complex and meaningful phenomenon, that depends on gender schemas and stereotypes, gender-role identity and gender-role traits, attitudes, and values. What seems to be of utmost importance is how gender may contribute to self-perception and perception by others, and that this understanding may be what allows leadership effectiveness to be optimized (Eklund, Barry, & Grunberg 2017). This is one of the challenges of this article. ...
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An ongoing challenge that women face in the business world is their place as leaders. Despite the progress that has been made in this regard, there still remains a substantial gender gap when it comes to obtaining high level executive roles. The purpose of this literature review is to examine the relationship between leadership and gender in the western world, and take that analysis a step further than simply looking at the leadership differences between men and women. This review aims to answer the following questions: First, do women leaders promote positive changes and outcomes in working environments? And if so, more so than men? Second, what are the barriers preventing women from being on the same level as their male counterparts when it comes to filling leadership positions? And third, what effect does culture and context have on gender and leadership? Our findings show that women are not as present in the executive suite as men, due to a number of barriers such as gender stereotypes, skewed evaluations and motherhood. In general, much of the literature has demonstrated that women's leadership characteristics are shown to be effective and it seems that the existence of both male and female traditional leadership qualities in a working environment is what allows both genders to thrive. Culture and context continue to play a key role in establishing and influencing perceptions regarding gender and leadership. The results of this research have made clear is that gender biases still exist in our society and play an enormous role in how leaders are brought into power.
... This augurs well with Walton's (2014) observation that gender is a powerful social force that shapes the lives of people. The fact that in society men are accorded higher social status within many cultures empowers them to be confident in whatever they do since they know they already have support (Eklund, Barry and Grunberg 2017). Lack of role models in the sciences as indicated in the findings affected the girls' confidence. ...
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This chapter, ‘National and District Support for Women Aspiring to Careers in School Leadership in Ethiopia’, is by Turuwark Zalalam Warkineh, Tizita Lemma Melka and Jill Sperandio. These authors focused on the experiences of women leaders as they are struggling to make a career in administrative districts and school principalship in Ethiopia. This chapter is based on rich qualitative experiences of twenty-one women currently employed in one district and also serving in some elementary schools. The authors bring attention to structural barriers of patriarchy and gender stereotypes at play against women as they navigate careers in educational leadership and working against traditional stereotypes of the role of women in society. Their analysis highlights why women continue to be under-represented in all levels of educational leadership in Ethiopia, despite policy efforts. The authors end with helpful recommendations on what needs to be done to advance women already serving in educational leadership and those in the pipeline who aspire to serve as school principals. They draw implications for leadership development and bring attention to the need to provide guidelines for pre-leadership training for women at national level and to establish forums for women educational leaders at district level. A more poignant suggestion is made regarding the need for explicit commitment to gender equality through gender training of male officials and principals to change their attitudes and mindsets about their treatment and perceptions of women and their place in society.
... Agentic behavior is necessary to lead for innovation (Wallace et al., 2016) and innovation is necessary for economic growth, success and often promotions and raises (Van Acker et al., 2018). Consequently, female leaders are often positioned in a quandary, whether or not a female leader demonstrates agentic behavior, her followers may perceive her negatively (Eklund et al., 2017;Fernandez et al., 2018). Agentic behavior is necessary to lead for innovation (Wallace et al., 2016) and yet it can be perceived as problematic for women leaders to exhibit this behavior. ...
... Gender, however, comprises numerous psychosocial consequences of the biological sexes. Literally, gender roles can trigger multifaceted interpretations (Eklund et al., 2017). Such facets comprise gender schemas and stereotypes, gender-role identity and traits, attitudes, and values, which pose adverse impacts on female and labour leadership. ...
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The research investigates the challenges female union members encounter while seeking or assuming labour union leadership positions. Using evidence from Kenya’s Electrical Traders and Allied Workers Union, this article aims at identifying sociocultural barriers, role conflict, and structural constraints on women in relation to gender inequality. The article is based on exploratory research using data comprising both qualitative and quantitative data obtained from interviewing 63 female respondents who were identified using a non-probability sampling procedure referred to as snowballing. The research revealed a significant proportion of the respondents observed that patriarchal union structures favour men, but hinder women from accessing leadership positions. Most viewed the trade union leadership roles as demanding and burdensome and therefore incompatible with their culturally designated family roles. Institutionalised sexism in the trade union discouraged women from assuming leadership positions, since they are unlikely to penetrate the male-dominated informal leadership lobbies and networks in the trade union. The study concludes that the union, and by extension the umbrella trade union movement, should adopt and implement affirmative actions that are focused to maintain women in union leadership structures.
... Dubinsky et al. (1995) reported that team leader tenure was negatively associated with the four transformational leadership dimensions in their study. Numerous studies have established links between leader gender and transformational leadership (e.g., Arnold et al., 2016;Arnold & Loughlin, 2010;Arnold & Loughlin, 2017;Eagly & Heilman, 2016;Eklund et al., 2017;Loughlin et al., 2011). For example, Loughlin et al., (2011) find that while male and female managers were both penalized for failing to engage in individually considerate transformational leadership behaviors, only male managers actually benefited from exhibiting high levels of this behavior. ...
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This study addresses a shortcoming in the transformational leadership literature (Van Knippenberg & Sitkin The Academy of Management Annals, 7(1), 1-60, 2013) by demonstrating when and how individual transformational leadership components may predict high and low team performance, as well as how these behaviors can combine to achieve certain outcomes. The study also sheds light on how certain team leader’s demographics (i.e., leader sex, age, and tenure) and team context conditions (i.e., team size and job complexity) predict different team performance outcomes via different transformational leadership behaviors. A case-based asymmetric configurational approach and fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) were used to examine data gathered from 59 teams in the marketing and print services sector. The results identified multiple useful configurations of transformational leadership behaviors and team leader demographics/team context conditions that accurately predict high and, separately, low team performance (i.e., achieving model prediction accuracy odds of 4 to 1 or greater). A predictive validation was also performed on a second sample whereby the highly consistent models for the study’s main sample had high predictive abilities for this second sample. From a practical standpoint, this study suggests that certain configurations of transformational sub-components may work better for some leaders than others (e.g., young female versus male leaders). It also identifies more realistic, authentic, and potentially less costly strategies for predicting high (and avoiding low) levels of team performance in different contexts. Finally, this study contributes to the literature by being a first attempt to apply an asymmetric approach to transformational leadership research.
... In the past, the discussion about leaderships only focused on men. Women rarely become a consideration in the topic of public leaders (Eklund, Barry, & Grunberg, 2017). An effective leadership stance can only be assumed by the male species (Appelbauhm, Audet, and Miller 2002). ...
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This article aims to identify leadership style which implemented by Risma as a female mayor of Surabaya and its impact on the development of Surabaya. This article mainly based on literature research and interviews. Then, the verstehen method is used to revive the experiences of others, in this case, is Tri Rismaharini's experience as an object of research, and is projected onto the subject of the researcher. The result shows that she is not only the leader who serves but also a simple leader, does not like the formal way, a principled leader, and able to act quickly in accordance with the problems faced by the people of Surabaya. Moreover, during her leadership period, Risma obtained many prestigious achievements and raised the reputation of Surabaya. One of them is that Surabaya was selected as the best city in Asia Pacific in 2012.
... Agentic behavior is necessary to lead for innovation (Wallace et al., 2016) and innovation is necessary for economic growth, success and often promotions and raises (Van Acker et al., 2018). Consequently, female leaders are often positioned in a quandary, whether or not a female leader demonstrates agentic behavior, her followers may perceive her negatively (Eklund et al., 2017;Fernandez et al., 2018). Agentic behavior is necessary to lead for innovation (Wallace et al., 2016) and yet it can be perceived as problematic for women leaders to exhibit this behavior. ...
Article
Purpose This study explores the impact of gender on team leadership style and how it impacts team innovation outcomes using the ambidexterity theory (opening and closing behaviors) of leadership for innovation. Design/methodology/approach A total of 215 self-report surveys of team members were collected for hypothesis testing. This study tests whether team leader gender moderates the relationship between ambidextrous team leadership and team innovation. Findings Female team leaders are engaged in less opening behaviors of ideation, risk-taking and exploration than their male counterparts. Additionally, when female leaders engaged in closing behaviors, which include assigning roles and timelines, they had less impact than the closing behaviors of their male colleagues. Female team leaders were perceived as less effective in leading innovation than males. Research limitations/implications This study examines the influence of gender on team leadership and innovation outcomes. There are drawbacks of cross-sectional data, sample selection issues and potential problems of percept–percept relationships. Practical implications These findings suggest that female team leads may need greater organizational support and organizational senior leadership support to take risks (opening behavior) to produce greater team innovation and increase leader visibility. Social implications Society can achieve even greater innovation outcomes by understanding and addressing the unique obstacles woman team leaders face with innovation. Organizations can benefit from innovation and resilience by supporting women team leaders in their diverse delivery of innovation. Originality/value This is the first study to look at the influence of gender and leadership on team innovation outcomes. Ambidextrous leadership theory provides insights into the specific challenges woman team leaders experience; however, so far no research has addressed the innovation outcome challenges female team leaders encounter. Since innovation and leadership can be a key component of visibility, compensation and promotion, it is necessary to investigate the challenges female team leads face in the innovation process.
... 6 A recent review article discussed gender and leadership and found no consistent differences in competence by gender. 7 An additional study reported no differences in performance between females and males, but females self-reported decreased self-confidence and increased anxiety when asked about their competence compared to males. 8 Similarly, no gender differences were found in performance, yet there were significant biases when only males were the raters. ...
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Introduction: Any implicit and explicit biases that exist may alter our interpretation of people and events. Within the context of assessment, it is important to determine if biases exist and to decrease any existing biases, especially when rating student performance to provide meaningful, fair, and useful input. The purpose of this study was to determine if the experience and gender of faculty members contribute to their ratings of students in a military medical field practicum. This information is important for fair ratings of students. Three research questions were addressed: Were there differences between new versus experienced faculty raters? Were there differences in assessments provided by female and male faculty members? Did gender of faculty raters impact ratings of female and male students?. Materials and methods: This study examined trained faculty evaluators' ratings of three cohorts of medical students during 2015-2017 during a medical field practicum. Female (n = 80) and male (n = 161) faculty and female (n = 158) and male (n = 311) students were included. Within this dataset, there were 469 students and 241 faculty resulting in 5,599 ratings for each of six outcome variables that relate to overall leader performance, leader competence, and leader communication. Descriptive statistics were computed for all variables for the first four observations of each student. Descriptive analyses were performed for evaluator experience status and gender differences by each of the six variables. A multivariate analyses of variance was performed to examine whether there were differences between gender of faculty and gender of students. Results: Descriptive analyses of the experience status of faculty revealed no significant differences between means on any of the rating elements. Descriptive analyses of faculty gender revealed no significant differences between female and male faculty ratings of the students. The overall MANOVA analyses found no statistically significant difference between female and male students on the combined dependent variables of leader performance for any of the four observations. Conclusions: The study revealed that there were no differences in ratings of student leader performance based on faculty experience. In addition, there were no differences in ratings of student leader performance based on faculty gender.
... There exist some serious discussions regarding the topics of leadership and gender because of personal, social, political and professional realities, of the current era. For this reason, a number of researchers have reported significant relationship between these two variables (Shanmugam, et al 2007), (Eklund, et al 2017), . Some style, perception, substance or reality based . ...
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The main aim of this empirical research is to investigate the impact of the leadership on supply chain management. In addition to that the study has also investigated the moderating role of gender in the relationship between leadership and supply chain Management. This article has drawn the attention to supply chain management concepts to discuss managing gender diversity. The contribution of the paper will be in the investigation of supply chain management literature through the lenses of supply chain leadership and the role of gender in the relationship of the supply chain and leadership relationship. The study revealed the fact that the leader of the supply chain brings the improvement and the change within the organization. As a result, the productivity and the performance of the organization is increased. In order to achieve high performance, it is important to change every aspect of the supply chain, including processes design. The findings of the study have shown an agreement with the proposed findings of the study.
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The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) is one of Sandra Bem’s most notable contributions to feminist psychology, measuring an individual’s identification with traditionally masculine and feminine qualities. In a cross-temporal meta-analysis of U.S. college students’ scores on the BSRI (34 samples, N = 8,027), we examined changes in ratings on the Bem masculinity (M) and femininity (F) scales since the early 1990s. Additional analyses used data collected in a previous meta-analysis (Twenge 1997) to document changes since the BSRI’s inception in 1974. Our results reveal that women’s femininity scores have decreased significantly (d = −.26) between 1993 and 2012, whereas their masculinity remained stable. No significant changes were observed for men. Expanded analyses of data from 1974 to 2012 (94 samples, N = 24,801) found that women’s M rose significantly (d = .23), with no changes in women’s F, men’s M, and men’s F. Women’s androgyny scores showed a significant increase since 1974, but not since 1993. Men’s androgyny remained the same in both time periods. Our findings suggest that since the 1990s, U.S. college women have become less likely to endorse feminine traits as self-representative, potentially revealing a devaluation of traditional femininity. However, it is also possible that the scale items do not match modern gender stereotypes. Future research may need to update the BSRI to reflect current conceptions of gender.
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Based on a series of lectures delivered in 1840, Thomas Carlyle's On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History considers the creation of heroes and the ways they exert heroic leadership. From the divine and prophetic (Odin and Muhammad) to the poetic (Dante and Shakespeare) to the religious (Luther and Knox) to the political (Cromwell and Napoleon), Carlyle investigates the mysterious qualities that elevate humans to cultural significance. By situating the text in the context of six essays by distinguished scholars that reevaluate both Carlyle's work and his ideas, David Sorensen and Brent Kinser argue that Carlyle's concept of heroism stresses the hero's spiritual dimension. In Carlyle's engagement with various heroic personalities, he dislodges religiosity from religion, myth from history, and truth from "quackery" as he describes the wondrous ways in which these "flowing light-fountains" unlock the heroic potential of ordinary human beings.