Unnecessary frills

Communality as a nice (but expendable) trait in leaders

Andrea C. Vial, Jaime Napier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Although leader role expectations appear to have become relatively more compatible with stereotypically feminine attributes like empathy, women continue to be highly underrepresented in leadership roles. We posit that one reason for this disparity is that, whereas stereotypically feminine traits are appreciated as nice "add-ons" for leaders, it is stereotypically masculine attributes that are valued as the defining qualities of the leader role, especially by men (who are often the gatekeepers to these roles). We assessed men's and women's idea of a great leader with a focus on gendered attributes in two studies using different methodologies. In Study 1, we employed a novel paradigm in which participants were asked to design their "ideal leader" to examine the potential trade-off between leadership characteristics that were more stereotypically masculine (i.e., agency) and feminine (i.e., communality). Results showed that communality was valued in leaders only after meeting the more stereotypically masculine requirements of the role (i.e., competence and assertiveness), and that men in particular preferred leaders who were more competent (vs. communal), whereas women desired leaders who kept negative stereotypically masculine traits in check (e.g., arrogance). In Study 2, we conducted an experiment to examine men's and women's beliefs about the traits that would be important to help them personally succeed in a randomly assigned leader (vs. assistant) role, allowing us to draw a causal link between roles and trait importance. We found that both men and women viewed agentic traits as more important than communal traits to be a successful leader. Together, both studies make a valuable contribution to the social psychological literature on gender stereotyping and bias against female leaders and may illuminate the continued scarcity of women at the very top of organizations, broadly construed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number1866
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Volume9
    Issue numberOCT
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Oct 15 2018

    Fingerprint

    Assertiveness
    Sexism
    Stereotyping
    Mental Competency
    Organizations
    Psychology

    Keywords

    • Agency
    • Communality
    • Gender roles
    • Gender stereotypes
    • Leader-role expectations

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology(all)

    Cite this

    Unnecessary frills : Communality as a nice (but expendable) trait in leaders. / Vial, Andrea C.; Napier, Jaime.

    In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, No. OCT, 1866, 15.10.2018.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Vial, Andrea C. ; Napier, Jaime. / Unnecessary frills : Communality as a nice (but expendable) trait in leaders. In: Frontiers in Psychology. 2018 ; Vol. 9, No. OCT.
    @article{2b714c3124a0405f8c56f35f6fc9fe20,
    title = "Unnecessary frills: Communality as a nice (but expendable) trait in leaders",
    abstract = "Although leader role expectations appear to have become relatively more compatible with stereotypically feminine attributes like empathy, women continue to be highly underrepresented in leadership roles. We posit that one reason for this disparity is that, whereas stereotypically feminine traits are appreciated as nice {"}add-ons{"} for leaders, it is stereotypically masculine attributes that are valued as the defining qualities of the leader role, especially by men (who are often the gatekeepers to these roles). We assessed men's and women's idea of a great leader with a focus on gendered attributes in two studies using different methodologies. In Study 1, we employed a novel paradigm in which participants were asked to design their {"}ideal leader{"} to examine the potential trade-off between leadership characteristics that were more stereotypically masculine (i.e., agency) and feminine (i.e., communality). Results showed that communality was valued in leaders only after meeting the more stereotypically masculine requirements of the role (i.e., competence and assertiveness), and that men in particular preferred leaders who were more competent (vs. communal), whereas women desired leaders who kept negative stereotypically masculine traits in check (e.g., arrogance). In Study 2, we conducted an experiment to examine men's and women's beliefs about the traits that would be important to help them personally succeed in a randomly assigned leader (vs. assistant) role, allowing us to draw a causal link between roles and trait importance. We found that both men and women viewed agentic traits as more important than communal traits to be a successful leader. Together, both studies make a valuable contribution to the social psychological literature on gender stereotyping and bias against female leaders and may illuminate the continued scarcity of women at the very top of organizations, broadly construed.",
    keywords = "Agency, Communality, Gender roles, Gender stereotypes, Leader-role expectations",
    author = "Vial, {Andrea C.} and Jaime Napier",
    year = "2018",
    month = "10",
    day = "15",
    doi = "10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01866",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "9",
    journal = "Frontiers in Psychology",
    issn = "1664-1078",
    number = "OCT",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Unnecessary frills

    T2 - Communality as a nice (but expendable) trait in leaders

    AU - Vial, Andrea C.

    AU - Napier, Jaime

    PY - 2018/10/15

    Y1 - 2018/10/15

    N2 - Although leader role expectations appear to have become relatively more compatible with stereotypically feminine attributes like empathy, women continue to be highly underrepresented in leadership roles. We posit that one reason for this disparity is that, whereas stereotypically feminine traits are appreciated as nice "add-ons" for leaders, it is stereotypically masculine attributes that are valued as the defining qualities of the leader role, especially by men (who are often the gatekeepers to these roles). We assessed men's and women's idea of a great leader with a focus on gendered attributes in two studies using different methodologies. In Study 1, we employed a novel paradigm in which participants were asked to design their "ideal leader" to examine the potential trade-off between leadership characteristics that were more stereotypically masculine (i.e., agency) and feminine (i.e., communality). Results showed that communality was valued in leaders only after meeting the more stereotypically masculine requirements of the role (i.e., competence and assertiveness), and that men in particular preferred leaders who were more competent (vs. communal), whereas women desired leaders who kept negative stereotypically masculine traits in check (e.g., arrogance). In Study 2, we conducted an experiment to examine men's and women's beliefs about the traits that would be important to help them personally succeed in a randomly assigned leader (vs. assistant) role, allowing us to draw a causal link between roles and trait importance. We found that both men and women viewed agentic traits as more important than communal traits to be a successful leader. Together, both studies make a valuable contribution to the social psychological literature on gender stereotyping and bias against female leaders and may illuminate the continued scarcity of women at the very top of organizations, broadly construed.

    AB - Although leader role expectations appear to have become relatively more compatible with stereotypically feminine attributes like empathy, women continue to be highly underrepresented in leadership roles. We posit that one reason for this disparity is that, whereas stereotypically feminine traits are appreciated as nice "add-ons" for leaders, it is stereotypically masculine attributes that are valued as the defining qualities of the leader role, especially by men (who are often the gatekeepers to these roles). We assessed men's and women's idea of a great leader with a focus on gendered attributes in two studies using different methodologies. In Study 1, we employed a novel paradigm in which participants were asked to design their "ideal leader" to examine the potential trade-off between leadership characteristics that were more stereotypically masculine (i.e., agency) and feminine (i.e., communality). Results showed that communality was valued in leaders only after meeting the more stereotypically masculine requirements of the role (i.e., competence and assertiveness), and that men in particular preferred leaders who were more competent (vs. communal), whereas women desired leaders who kept negative stereotypically masculine traits in check (e.g., arrogance). In Study 2, we conducted an experiment to examine men's and women's beliefs about the traits that would be important to help them personally succeed in a randomly assigned leader (vs. assistant) role, allowing us to draw a causal link between roles and trait importance. We found that both men and women viewed agentic traits as more important than communal traits to be a successful leader. Together, both studies make a valuable contribution to the social psychological literature on gender stereotyping and bias against female leaders and may illuminate the continued scarcity of women at the very top of organizations, broadly construed.

    KW - Agency

    KW - Communality

    KW - Gender roles

    KW - Gender stereotypes

    KW - Leader-role expectations

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85055052543&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85055052543&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01866

    DO - 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01866

    M3 - Article

    VL - 9

    JO - Frontiers in Psychology

    JF - Frontiers in Psychology

    SN - 1664-1078

    IS - OCT

    M1 - 1866

    ER -