The image of executives is male
According to the implicit leadership theories, individuals develop mental abstractions of what constitutes leadership (also called leadership prototype) over the course of their lives.
These executive prototypes are unconsciously used as schematic categorization patterns on the basis of which information is perceived, evaluated and categorized.
The empirically confirmed assumption that the degree of fit between the target person and the executive prototype in succession not only determines whether the respective target person is seen as a leader;
The shot determines how we record something - not the other way around!
The degree of fit also determines how openly the perceptive subject is exposed to any attempt at influence by the target person, how trustworthy the relationship between them can be or generally how well the target person is assessed in their leadership role.
Thus, according to this approach of executive categorization, it is not so much the objective qualities as the leader but cognitive processes of perception that determine how individuals respond to a (potential) leadership.
In practice: management prototypes are male!
Several papers consistently and repeatedly show that leadership prototypes are more masculine. For example, in a study by Offermann et al., Subjects find aspects of masculinity explicit as leadership prototypes.
In addition, Johnson and colleagues demonstrated that a total of eight leadership prototypic factors identified by Offermann and colleagues were clearly attributed to men, while only one dimension was more strongly associated with women.
Socially and historically characterized
The remaining four dimensions were used to describe male and female managers alike. These results are in line with various other findings, in which the leadership role is defined by test persons rather male.
For many centuries, leadership positions have traditionally been clothed by men and the connection between man and Guide thus firmly anchoring both in the personal and in the social leadership prototype, the results described above are hardly surprising.
Think manager, think male
While modern developments in gender mainstreaming and gender equality policy may have had an impact on this, it is likely to be more long-term as gender role models have generally proved to be very resilient to change.
The think-manager-think-male phenomenon, which Virginia E. Schein made known in 1996, can still be found in current studies.
Should career women behave masculine?
Accordingly, it may be advisable to advise women with ambitions for leadership positions to behave as masculine as possible, and thus more likely to fulfill the gender role that can be well associated with leadership.
In doing so, however, it is overlooked that a breach of the expectations placed on women because of their gender is also a negative assessment.
Male behavior does not lead to the goal!
A “forced” change in behavior for women is therefore not only questionable from a normative and ethical point of view, but also practically difficult to do against the background of the empirical situation. The desired result - equality - is not achieved in this way!
Instead, other forms are needed to overcome this type of gender discrimination.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965960602
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