Comparative Political Leadership

Part of the series Palgrave Studies in Political Leadership series pp 207-226

Comparing and Assessing Gender Effects in Political Leadership

  • Anne Stevens


Comparing the effect upon political leadership of physical features (sex) and socially attributed or derived characteristics and behaviour (gender) presents a number of theoretical and empirical difficulties. First, leaders are by definition distinctive and few in number. We cannot avoid seeing individuals, often very specific individuals. And we recognize them as being either male or female. This chapter starts from the assumption that there are minimal basic biological differences between men and women which we recognize in everyday life and which make it meaningful to talk about men and women and to apply the adjectives male and female to members of the respective groups. But do the physiological differences between men and women actually have any consequences in relation to leadership?