Research evidence strongly indicates gender stereotypes affect perceptions of leaders and managers. Schein (2001), reviewing her past work and recent studies by herself and collaborators concerning perceptions of the managerial role, found significant relationships between descriptions of “men” and “successful managers” by both men and women subjects across many national cultures, but not in the USA (see, e.g., Schein and Mueller, 1992). With the increase in the number of women in management in the USA, female managers held less stereotyped perceptions of successful managers than their male counterparts.
Yoder (2001) and other scholars (e.g. Fletcher, 2001; Maier, 1991) point out that leadership itself is gendered and is enacted within a gendered context. Research using the Bem Sex Role Inventory also indicates that leadership behaviour explicitly defined in two items is typically viewed as a masculine trait (Bem 1981; Holt and Ellis, 1998; Campbell, Gillaspy and Thompson, 1997; Choi and Fuqua, 2003). Studies conducted in Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Zimbabwe report similar results (Sugihara and Katsurada, 1999; Leung and Moore, 2003; Maznah and Choo, 1986; and Wilson, McMaster, Greenspan, Mobyi, Ncube and Sibanda, 1990).
While men still dominate in leadership positions (Pratto and Espinoza 2001; Norris and Inglehart, 2000), there is research suggesting that when women do occupy leadership positions, they display different leader styles compared to males (Butterfield and Grinnell, 1999). In a review of the extant literature on female leadership, Eagly and Carli (2003) concluded that among managers women tended to be more democratic in their leadership styles compared to men. They also reported that a meta-analysis of 45 studies examining gender differences in transformational leader behaviours found,