Navigation Links
Gender biases in leadership selection during competitions within and between groups

What makes a great leader? Traits that we look for typically include a sense of power, great negotiating skills and lots of charisma. However, a recent study suggests that it is not just an outgoing personality and great communication skills that determine who is chosen as leader of a group. Previous research has implicated that there is a gender bias when selecting leaders; preference for a male versus female leader may depend on the specific situation that a group finds itself in. Psychologists Mark Van Vugt and Brian R. Spisak from the University of Kent wanted to explore this further and see if gender influences the selection of group leaders during various group competition situations.

The researchers studied this by having volunteers participate in an investment game. They were each given $6 and any of that amount could be invested into a group fund, with the volunteer keeping the rest for themselves. However, if the group fund exceeded a certain amount, the volunteer would receive a bonus, in addition to what was in their private fund. Volunteers were each told they would be part of a group during this computerized investment game, when in fact, they were solely making the decisions.

Before beginning the game, participants were assigned to a specific experimental condition: intragroup competition (volunteers were told that their performance in the game would be compared to others in their group), intergroup competition (volunteers were told that their group's performance would be compared to that of other groups), or a control condition. In the control condition, volunteers were not provided with any information about competition- it was treated as a regular investment game. Participants were presented with two candidates (one male and one female) and were told to vote for one of the candidates to serve as their [hypothetical] group's leader. Immediately prior to the start of the investment game, half of the volunteers were told that their group had elected a female leader and the remaining volunteers were told their group would have a male leader.

The results, reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, revealed that a gender bias occurred when selecting leaders in various group scenarios. Females were more often chosen as leaders of the intragroup condition while males were preferred to lead intergroup situations. In addition, females were also viewed as being more effective than males in maintaining intragroup relationships. Interestingly, in the control condition, males and females were equally selected as leaders.

There was also an evident gender bias during the investment exercise. In the intragroup condition, investments in the group fund were higher when there was a female leader. For the intergroup condition, there was more money invested in the group fund in the presence of a male leader compared to a female leader.

The authors suggest that these findings are the result of the way our society has evolved. For example, men have traditionally been more involved in combat and war (i.e. intergroup conflict) than womensuccessful male warriors were held in high status in many societies. That females were selected as leaders in the intragroup conditions and were also viewed as being more effective in maintaining positive relationships within the group may reflect females' traditional roles as peacekeepers and wanting to preserve group order. The authors reason, "Such engendered leadership prototypes are a residual of human evolutionary history that still affects the way people evaluate and respond to leadership in society today."

However, it is interesting to note that these leadership prototypes may have been in place prior to human evolution. Chimpanzees (our nearest relatives) also exhibit similar gendered leadership standardsthe males are in charge of patrolling group boundaries and the females maintain the peace within their group.

Overall, the findings indicate that during times of intergroup conflict a male leader prototype is sought while during intragroup conflict a female leader prototype is sought. The authors noted that these prototypes "emerge from a combination of evolved decision rules and culture specific gender role stereotypes."


Contact: Barbara Isanski
Association for Psychological Science

Related biology news :

1. Diet prior to pregnancy determines sheeps gender
2. Gender roles and not gender bias hold back women scientists
3. Hearing changes how we perceive gender
4. Gender, coupled with diabetes, affects vascular disease development
5. USGS Coalition to honor Reps. Dicks, Regula with Leadership Award
6. NeuralIQ Expands Global Leadership Team, Names Donnie Blanks CEO
7. Yales Anastas honored for leadership in founding of green chemistry
8. 19 researchers selected as 2008 Leopold Leadership Fellows
9. Too few women scientists achieving academic leadership positions
10. UCSD bioengineering grad student wins leadership award
11. Abel to receive posthumous Ocean and Coastal Leadership award
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... ANN ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... with Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... DNA to enable the preparation of NGS libraries ... in plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Munich, Germany , ... (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos ... so that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s ... Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic ... eye tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) ... New York on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 ... president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. th ... at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . Jim ... provide a corporate overview. --> th Annual Oppenheimer ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Worcester, Mass. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 ... ... need to maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper ... Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms ... there are no corporate developments that would cause the ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by Product ... (PCR, Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical ... published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to reach ... in 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% during the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: