So much has changed since 1963, when Betty Friedan's influential "The Feminine Mystique" provoked a national discussion about the deep dissatisfaction women were feeling about the limitations of their lives. Many women came to believe that discrimination limited their opportunities, especially in relation to leadership roles.
But a new Northwestern University meta-analysis (an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question) shows that even today leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. Thus, women suffer from two primary forms of prejudice.
Women are viewed as less qualified or natural in most leadership roles, the research shows, and secondly, when women adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, they may be viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.
These reactions to women leaders reflect gender stereotypes. Previous research found that predominantly "communal" qualities, such as being nice or compassionate, are associated with women, and predominantly "agentic" qualities, such as being assertive or competitive, are associated with men.
It is these agentic qualities that are believed to be essential to successful leadership. Because men fit the cultural stereotype of leadership better than women, they have better access to leadership roles and face fewer challenges in becoming successful in them.
The good news for women is that the project's analyses indicate that this masculine construal of leadership is weaker now than it was in earlier years. Despite this shift toward more androgynous beliefs about leadership, it remains culturally masculine — just not as extremely so as in the past. However, this masculinity lessens somewhat for lower-level leadership positions and in educational organizations.
The implications of the meta-analysis are straightforward, said Alice Eagly, professor of psychology and faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern and a co-author of the study.
"Cultural stereotypes can make it seem that women do not have what it takes for important leadership roles, thereby adding to the barriers that women encounter in attaining roles that yield substantial power and authority," she said.
The meta-analysis incorporated studies from three different paradigms of research to examine the cultural masculinity of leadership stereotypes and the conditions under which such masculinity is more or less pronounced. The paradigms are characterized as think manager-think male; agency-communion; and masculinity-femininity.
An advantage of the Northwestern project is its use of these three research paradigms, which provide independent tests of leader stereotypes, Eagly said. Most of the data came from the United States, with some from Canada, Europe and East Asia. Few studies of leader stereotypes were available from other nations.
"Women's experiences will differ depending on their culture," she said. "We would like to have more data from different nations, and also sub-cultural data within the United States that takes race and social class into account, but that's something to look to in the future."
The project "Are Leader Stereotypes Masculine? A Meta-Analysis of Three Research Paradigms" is in the July issue of the Psychological Bulletin. Besides Eagly, the co-authors of the study are Anne M. Koenig, University of San Diego; Abigail A. Mitchell, Nebraska Wesleyan University; and Tiini Ristikari, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
NORTHWESTERN NEWS: www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/
Hilary Hurd Anyaso | EurekAlert!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy