Women Are Better Leaders Than They Think: Gender Differences in the Self-Assessment of Leadership Skills in the Maritime Industry

  • Olga Delgado Ortega
  • Kjell Ivar Øvergård
  • Veronica Henden
Conference paper
Part of the WMU Studies in Maritime Affairs book series (WMUSTUD, volume 3)


It is highly desirable that women and men have the same access to maritime training and work aboard ships. Gender stereotypes affect judgment of competence in women and men differently. This study investigated female and male maritime officers’ ability to evaluate their leadership skills. A 360° leader evaluation survey obtained both self-assessments and co-worker assessments of maritime officers’ leadership (both positive and negative) skills, using the MLQ-5X leadership questionnaire. Results from 17 female and 30 male maritime officers shows an interaction between gender and errors in self-evaluation (tendency to over-estimate or under-estimate) of leadership skills. Female leaders tended to underrate their actual leadership skills, while male maritime officers tended to overrate their leadership skills relative to the evaluations of their co-workers. For negative leadership skills, female maritime officers over-estimated the level of negative leadership skill they had, while male leaders under-estimated their level of negative leadership skills. For positive leadership skills, the opposite relation was present (women under-estimated and men over-estimated the level of positive leadership skills). These results point—for the first time—to a gender difference in the evaluation of leadership skills in the maritime domain. An overtly critical attitude towards one’s own leadership skills might be a factor in explaining why many women choose to abstain from high-status positions in the maritime industry. Maritime leadership training can be made more inclusive by focusing on gender differences in the (self)-evaluation of leadership skills.


Gender differences Leadership Maritime officers Self-assessment Stereotypes Women seafarers 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Delgado Ortega
    • 1
  • Kjell Ivar Øvergård
    • 2
  • Veronica Henden
    • 2
  1. 1.Departament de Ciències i Enginyeria NàutiquesUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Facultat de Nàutica de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Maritime Technology and InnovationBuskerud and Vestfold University CollegeBorreNorway

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