Although women have made strides in the business world, they still occupy less than two percent of CEO leadership positions in the Fortune 500. Not surprisingly therefore leaders still tend to be thought of as men and most industries are considered to be male-typed at management levels. However, as more women move into management positions within a handful of industries, these industries are becoming more gender-neutral and stereotypes of leaders as men may be changing.
A study published in an upcoming issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly examines these issues, investigating how men and women leaders and their teams are evaluated differently depending on the gender-typing of the industry in which they work.
The results show that people have higher expectations for the performance of teams when their leaders' gender is consistent with the gender typing of the industry in which the team is working. Interestingly, expectations for the performance of the leaders themselves were not impacted by their consistency with industry gender typing. Researcher Susan F. Cabrera notes, "This research demonstrates the power of stereotypes concerning what kinds of people should lead organizations in what kinds of industries. In addition, it suggests that, as more women move into certain sectors of our economy, stereotypes may be evolving in ways that create a more level playing field for women who aspire to leadership positions."
The study shows that as more women assume leadership roles in the workforce, the management stereotype will in turn evolve, resulting in changes in the relative expectations for performance by men and women in management positions. The notion that male leaders will outperform women leaders is no longer applicable in all situations since this is largely linked to the current gender typing environment at a given firm.
This study is published in the December 2009 issue of the Psychology of Women Quarterly.
- Cabrera et al. The evolving manager stereotype: the effects of industry gender typing on performance expectations for leaders and their teams. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2009; 33 (4): 419 DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2009.01519.x
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