Leaders as Males?: The Role of Industry Gender Composition
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Does working in a female dominated industry influence how male leaders are perceived? To investigate this question, we draw on Role Congruity Theory and suggest that industry gender composition moderates the relationship between leader gender and four different aspects of leadership effectiveness. The existing literature suggests that male leaders are likely to be perceived more effective than female leaders because leader roles largely resemble male gender roles. However, the perception of leadership effectiveness does not solely depend on the leader gender but also the context that makes the leader gender more salient. Based on the 360-degree leadership assessment data of 952 U.S. leaders and their raters (n = 8684), the current study found that as the gender composition of the industry becomes more congruent with the gender of the leader, both self- and other- leader perceptions become more favorable. In this study, industry gender composition moderated the relationship (a) between leader gender and self-ratings of leadership effectiveness dimensions as well as (b) between leader gender and other-ratings. This was particularly true when looking at perceptions of leaders’ abilities to promote adaptability in their organizations. Overall, this paper provides insight into the role of contextual factors on leadership effectiveness ratings and highlights the importance of considering industry gender composition when utilizing feedback for the purposes of leadership development.
KeywordsLeadership and gender Industry gender composition Role congruity theory Leadership effectiveness
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