Leader gender stereotypes and transformational leadership: Does leader sex make the difference?

  • Sarah E. Saint-Michel

Abstract

This research aims to understand how leaders’ self-perception of their gender role identity, described as agentic or communal, influences their followers’ perception of transformational leadership. Agentic attributes are stereotypically masculine while communal attributes are stereotypically feminine. Drawing on role congruity theory (Eagly & Karau, 2002) and leadership prototype theory (Lord & Maher, 1993), we propose a theoretical model to investigate the influence of leader sex and stereotypical gendered perception of leaders on perceptions of transformational leadership among their followers. Using a sample of 260 employees and their 65 immediate supervisors from French organizations, the results of multilevel structural equation modeling suggest that female leaders who self-describe as highly communal are perceived by followers as more transformational than male leaders. Contrary to our hypothesis, the results reveal an unexpected positive relationship between women’s agentic attributes and follower perceptions of transformational leadership. Our findings develop role congruity theory by demonstrating the influence of gendered stereotypes not only for female but also male leaders.

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Published
2018-09-01
How to Cite
Saint-Michel, S. E. (2018). Leader gender stereotypes and transformational leadership: Does leader sex make the difference?. M@n@gement, 21(3), 944-966. Retrieved from https://management-aims.com/index.php/mgmt/article/view/3804
Section
Original Research Articles