Gender, gender self-perceptions, and workplace leadership

Wolfram, Hans-Joachim, Alfermann, Dorothee and Athenstaedt, Ursula (2020) Gender, gender self-perceptions, and workplace leadership. In: Zimmermann, Klaus F., (ed.) Handbook of labor, human resources and population economics. Cham, Switzerland : Springer. ISBN 9783319573656


Female leaders display at least equally effective behaviors as male leaders, but female leaders are still underrepresented in leadership positions. Furthermore, it is more difficult for female leaders than for male leaders to achieve positive leadership outcomes. Role congruity theory suggests that a perceived mismatch between feminine gender role and masculine leadership role can create role conflicts that may hinder women’s progression to leadership positions and may negatively affect the evaluation of women, who have achieved leadership positions. Research evidence suggests that role congruity theory can help explain gender differences in leadership emergence and leadership outcomes. Furthermore, role congruity theory can be meaningfully combined with concepts, such as double standards of competence as well as status incongruence. Further research is needed to determine the relative importance of social roles (i.e., gender role, leadership role) and individual attributes (i.e., categorical gender, gender selfperceptions) for the persistence of gender-inequality in the workplace. From a practical perspective, this implies that both organizational level (e.g., gender belief systems) and individual level (e.g., career advancement for women) need to be addressed simultaneously.

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