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Are women invisible as leaders?

Abstract

This study shows that women are unlikely to be seen as leaders. Subjects (n=448) rated each member of a five-person group (shown in a photograph) on leadership attributes and also chose one of the five as “contributing most to the group.” Eight different stimulus slides were used. In two slides the “head-of-the-table” cue to group leadership was pitted against sex-role stereotypes. A man seated at the head of the table in a mixed-sex group was clearly seen as leader of his group, but a woman occupying the same position was ignored. The head-of-the-table cue identified women as leaders only in all-female stimulus groups. The data were consistent with the hypotheses that sex stereotypes still control social judgments, and that discrimination operates nonconsciously and in spite of good intentions.

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Correspondence to Natalie Porter.

Additional information

The authors are indebted to Marcia Halperin who read an early draft of this report and contributed substantially to the organization and exposition of the present version.

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Porter, N., Geis, F.L. & Jennings (Walstedt), J. Are women invisible as leaders?. Sex Roles 9, 1035–1049 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289420

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Group Leadership
  • Good Intention
  • Social Judgment
  • Stimulus Group