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Professional respect for female and male leaders : influential gender-relevant factors.

Wolfram, H. J. and Mohr, G. and Schyns, B. (2007) 'Professional respect for female and male leaders : influential gender-relevant factors.', Women in management review., 22 (1). pp. 19-32.


Purpose – The paper aims to test the impact of gender-relevant factors on professional respect for leaders. Design/methodology/approach – Three determinants were analysed: gender constellation (gender match) between leaders and followers, gender-stereotypic leadership behaviour, and followers' gender role attitudes. A field study with N1=121 followers and their N2=81 direct leaders from 34 German organisations was conducted. Leaders were on the lowest level of hierarchy. Findings – The data showed that female leaders are at risk of receiving less professional respect from their followers than male leaders: male followers of female leaders had less professional respect than female followers of male leaders. Moreover, gender role discrepant female leaders (i.e. autocratic) got less respect than gender role discrepant male leaders (i.e. democratic). But no difference was found with regard to gender role congruent female (i.e. democratic) and male (i.e. autocratic) leaders. Finally, followers with traditional gender role attitudes were prone to have comparatively little professional respect for female leaders. Research limitations/implications – Future research should analyse gender-relevant factors that influence the granting of professional respect and systematically compare these effects across branches. Furthermore, it would be interesting to see whether followers evaluate leaders from higher levels of hierarchy in the same way as our respondents did. Practical implications – In order to promote women in leadership positions, followers' prejudices against female leaders should be reduced. Originality/value – Field studies about the evaluation of female and male leaders explicitly considering their followers' gender role attitudes are rare. The results reflect that sexism is well and alive.

Item Type:Article
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Date of first online publication:2007
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