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Female Leadership Styles Evaluation Case Study

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Updated: Nov 18th, 2020


Even though the role of women in the workplace increased significantly, there is still some bias in the perception of female leaders. In particular, the same behavior conducted by male and female leaders is evaluated differently with the priority given to men. Due to the more favorable attitude to male leadership, women have to encounter more barriers to their professional growth and development associated with sex effects.

In this regard, the suggested study focuses on transformational and transactional leaders of both sexes to reveal the role of gender in their evaluations. Supporting their research with the evidence, Powell, Butterfield, and Bartol (2008) note that the recent field studies identified the so-called “female advantage” that implies the higher rating for women leaders while others indicate their discrimination. Therefore, the problem is the disadvantaged position of transactional and transformational female leaders.


The authors of the article present two hypotheses each of which has two subsections. The congruity theory presents the basis for the first hypothesis that assumes that gender-role-congruent leaders will be evaluated higher rather than their non-congruent colleagues. The authors provide the rational for their hypothesis by reviewing the key characteristics of the mentioned theory, according to which women tend to employ transformational leadership style due to their inherent feature of nurturance, and men are more prone to use transactional leadership that is caused by their intrinsic aggression.

The second hypothesis focuses on the social identity theory, implying the adherence to the same social groups on the basis of sex, interests, etc. Thus, it is suggested that female evaluators would access same sex leaders more favorably than those of the opposite sex, and men would act in the same manner.

Study Relevance

The need for this study is dictated by the contemporary issues in the field of leadership, especially the role of female leaders and their perception by others. There are plenty of scholarly studies on the given theme, yet many of them are controversial. While some researches emphasize the disadvantages position of female leaders that impedes their professional development, others indicate their advantaged status and opportunities to climb the career ladder.

With this in mind, the authors assume that gender and the type of leadership may play the core role in the evaluation of female leader performance. This is the first study that attempts to compare and contrast the mentioned leadership styles in the context of gender, thus facilitating the need for change and proper understanding of the situation. The authors expect to verify the prior research to contribute to both theory and practice.


The methods of survey and descriptive statistics compose the methodology of this study. In particular, 459 MBA students completed surveys after reading the vignettes written by transactional and transformational leaders. No essential difference was detected between students of different ethnicity and gender. The leader descriptions were measured according to the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire that identifies various dimensions of behavior, including motivation, stimulation, and so on.

Satisfaction, extra work, and effectiveness are the indicators of the leader evaluations that were rated by respondents. After that, the average score was calculated, and the analysis of variance was conducted in order to verify the subscales completed by participants. The format of table was selected to present the results of the study and all the indicators interpreted in the course of the analysis. In addition, several figures were used to reveal sex interaction effects.

Literature Review

The given study provides the overview of the recent literature and notes the authors that work in the field of gender-associated management. For example, the very purpose of the article involves the brief review of the theme. The authors of the article refer to the studies by Catalyst (2006), Powell (1999), Bartol (1978), and those of other scholars who evidence the fact that women leaders are discriminated in the process of evaluation.

The research by Eagly and Karau (2002) reveals that the disadvantaged position of female leaders creates the additional difficulties and adversely affects their status in the workplace. In its turn, the meta-analysis conducted by Eagly et al. (2003) illustrates that women leaders receive higher ratings within transformational leadership along with contingent reward aspect of transactional leadership. The above study also specifies that men are appraised more positively in most aspects of transactional leadership.

Furthermore, the article presents literature reviews related to hypotheses that were described in the previous section. The studies by Eagly (1987) and Eagly et al. (2000) are applied to link the role congruity theory to gender in management.

In particular, the above articles are used to state that women proved to be more effective in transformational leadership, and men – in transactional. The second hypothesis is based on the works by Williams and O’Reilly (1998), Byrne (1971), and Byrne and Neuman (1992) who emphasize the preference of evaluators given to same sex leaders. At this point, the role of the social identity theory clarified by Ashforth and Mael (1989) and Tajfel and Turner (1986). Thus, the literature review presents the results of various studies that are properly cited and interpreted by the authors of the article.

Assumptions, Limitations, and Potential

The assumptions of this study are related to the hypotheses identified by the authors. The limitations concern the sample as it involves part-time MBA students as respondents that make it impossible to generalize the study to the other social groups. The fact that the research uses hypothetical leaders as well as the same vignettes also limits the implementation of the results. However, there is significant potential of the article as the authors recommend the extension and the further research aimed at the verification of the revealed findings.

With this in mind, it is important to note that the study proves the existing of gender-related biased evaluation of transactional and transformational female leaders. As for the practical implications, one may conclude that both public and private organizations may employ these findings in order to eliminate such bias in their workplaces.

Conclusion of the Research Finding

The research findings present the following points: female transformational leaders tend to be rated higher than those of the opposite sex, while female evaluators gave evaluations that are more positive to the same sex leaders. Speaking of transactional leaders, it is possible to state that their evaluation did not differ significantly when it came to sexes, and men evaluators did not show any adherence to sexes.

The detailed discussion of the mentioned findings shows that the authors interpret them as appropriate and conclude that female leaders are appraised more positively compared to a series of the prior studies. Such a results show some transfer from pro-male to pro-female approach in management that undoubtedly is not favorable. This new direction of sex-related bias needs to be addressed by organizations, achieving such a balance when both sexes would be evaluated equally in terms of similar leadership style.

Critique on the Article

The article by Powell et al. (2008) presents a rather important theme of gender issues in management, namely, those of leadership. Considering male and female leaders in terms of transformational and transactional leadership, the authors conduct the extensive literature review and provide the recent studies that enlighten the mentioned theme. It is possible to claim that the literature review is informative and structured in pinpointing the key assumptions of the authors. The selected articles are peer-reviewed and, therefore, can be assessed as reliable and useful. In addition, they help to reveal the problem and come up with hypotheses.

The methods used by the authors involve surveys and descriptive statistics that support the findings. Such a selection of methods seems to be appropriate as these methods go in line in analyzing and interpreting the collected data. The latter was obtained from part-time students that completed surveys, pinpointing their perceptions of hypothetical leaders. The volume of sample shows that the results of the study may be considered credible. The visual facilities such as tables and figures contribute to comprehensiveness of the study and assist a reader in an in-depth understanding of how the results were obtained as well as what key indicators identified the findings.

The arguments provided by the authors are convincing and based on the corresponding scholarly literature. In particular, they focus on the role congruity and the social identity theories, linking them to sex evaluation in transactional and transformational leadership. Such an approach seems to be productive and congruent with the chosen problem. More to the point, the authors preserve objectivity throughout the study that proves their scholar approach and eliminates the occurrence of bias.

The article flows well, namely, every section is preceded with the heading or subheading as appropriate. The writing style is also persuasive and clear yet objective, so that readers may understand every aspect of the research.

The limitations to the article are clearly noted in both the abstract and the body of the study. They are related to the hypothetical nature of the offered vignettes and the sample, consisting solely of students. However, the implications are important as they provide insights on theory and practice enhancement due to the reflection of the new tendency in gender management. In particular, the revealed shift from pro male to pro female management shows the main provision of the study.

It is argued by the authors that such a transformation needs to be tested in the future research to establish whether this fact relates to real life leaders and evaluators. Considering the specification of limitations and implications, it seems that authors are well aware of the theme and planning to develop it.

Along with the advantages that were identified above, there are some disadvantages associated with literature review and conclusion. The former disadvantage is caused by the inclusion of some outdated sources that could be replaced by the more contemporary ones, thus making the study more relevant. The second disadvantage relates to conclusion that is not directly distinguished in the article. Combined with the discussion section, it embraces the results of the study in a superficial manner. It would be better if the conclusion were more detailed and congruent with the hypotheses. In general, the given article is significant in comprehending the current tendencies in gender management as it integrates prior studies, theories, and the new experimental research.


Powell, G. N., Butterfield, D. A., & Bartol, K. M. (2008). Leader evaluations: A new female advantage? Gender in Management: An International Journal, 23(3), 156-174.

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