After serving in the Air Force for the past 16 years, I have come to the realization that there are still many hurdles facing women as they strive for senior leadership positions in our armed forces. While this paper served to highlight some of the more recent events and attitudes surrounding the topic of leadership effectiveness and gender, it does not comprise the final conclusion on this topic. This paper serves to inform the reader that there has been much progress in terms of women and the way they are perceived as leaders.
But on the other hand, this research leaves room for further analysis on the topic and begs the question, is we really giving full and equals access to top positions to both our men and women in uniform? I would like to thank my research advisor, Lt Col Branch, for her assistance in putting this, my first, and perhaps my only, thesis paper of my career, together. She provided valuable guidance throughout the process and without her aid, this paper would not have been possible. I would also like to thank the professionals at the Air University Library for their assistance in helping me locate all my reference material with ease.
They are worth their weight in gold, and helped me find pertinent information quickly and painlessly. iv AU/ACSC/061/1999-04 Abstract This research paper on the subject of Leadership Effectiveness and Gender attempts to conduct a focused amount of research to answer the question about the correlation between gender and leadership effectiveness. It specifically looks at the current definitions of leadership and looks at some historical background information relating to the more common theories that relate to leadership and effectiveness.
It also delves into some of the more traditional leadership theories as well as some of the more modern day theories and attempts to identify why there is still a considerable absence in top military leadership by female officers. Of the 284 Air Force general officers on active duty today, there are only 7 females among them, for a 2% representation. My claim is that there is more of a hidden bias by men against women than there is a logical reason for this underrepresentation of women in the senior ranks.
This paper focuses on this sensitive subject area, and hopefully raises readers‘ awareness of the presence of this bias that still exits today. This research was conducted by using a variety of current books and periodical articles on the topic of leadership and gender and effectiveness. It is by no means an exhaustive study, but merely points out there are really no good explanations as to why women are still so underrepresented in the senior ranks besides the age old stereotypes that keep women lagging behind men in the highest ranks.
This paper shows that there is virtually no empirical evidence that suggests that simply by being male, one has the v corner on the —leadership market. “ And it is my hope that this paper leads to more indepth study on the leadership and gender aspects of military leadership as we head into the next century. Women are here to stay in the US military, and it would serve us all well to not deny senior leadership positions to those well-deserving women, simply because they are women. vi Chapter 1 Introduction
Leadership is —the process of influencing an organized group toward accomplishing its goals. “ –Roach & Behling, 1984 Leadership is a topic that comes up in most discussions at least weekly in our professional lives, yet this topic has been the dealt with mainly in terms of using male role models and studying field generals from past wars. This has left a void in the development of many potential senior female military leaders, and thus the purpose of this paper, which is to examine the correlation between leadership effectiveness and gender, —fact or bias. “ Qualities of Effective Leaders
There are certain basic qualities or characteristics that most people associate with leadership. Some of these include self-reliant, independent, assertive, risk taker, dominant, ambitious, and self-sufficient. Most people would agree that people whom posses these attributes are often labeled as —leaders. “ Effective leadership can be categorized in the following way. An effective leader is someone who motivates a person or a group to accomplish more than they would have otherwise accomplished without that leader‘s involvement. We can liken this to the sporting arena where a team 1
is comprised of individual players; each with certain skills, but the team is honed into a finely tuned instrument by virtue of the coach orchestrating them into a cohesive unit. In this manner, and only with the proper motivation and care, will this group of individuals gel into a team and accomplish more together than they ever could on their own merits. With this framework set in place, one would argue that leadership effectiveness is not gender-specific, but there seem to be many attributes that are found in both males and females that lend themselves to becoming an effective leader.
After researching many references on this topic, and reading many of the empirical data available on leadership effectiveness and gender, one is left with the opinion that there is still ample opportunity for research and case studies in this area. We must come up with some definitive facts on the key ingredients of effective leadership and determine if gender plays a pivotal role in this. This paper is limited by time and scope and does not pretend to be an allencompassing review of leadership and gender issues.
It merely serves to bring to the fore some recent findings and some current articles concerning this topic as food for thought. There will be references to several studies and current findings as they were documented, and this paper will provide some interpretations of this data as it relates to the confines of this study. The goal of this paper is to stimulate the thinking of the reader as he/she participates in the armed forces in either the leader or the follower role, and to assist in clearing away some of the bias that still clouds the rise of females into top leadership roles. 2 Definitions of Leadership
The opening quote of this paper listed only one of many definitions of leadership. This paper will list a few more well accepted definitions to start off this discussion and these definitions will form the basis of our understanding as we tackle the remainder of the process of determining the correlation between leadership effectiveness and gender. Some common definitions of leadership include the following: —The creative and directive force of morale —(Munson, 1921). Or this definition is —The process by which an agent induces a subordinate to behave in a desired manner“ (Bennis, 1959).
Yet another definition is as follows, —The presence of a particular influence relationship between two or more persons“ (Hollander & Julian, 1969). Still another reads, —Directing and coordinating the work of group members“ (Fiedler, 1967). Leadership is also, —An interpersonal relation in which others comply because they want to, not because they have to“ (Merton, 1969). —Transforming followers, creating visions of the goals that may be attained, and articulating for the followers, the ways to attain those goals“ (Bass, 1985; Tichy & Devanna, 1986).
And lastly, leadership is —Actions that focus resources to create desirable opportunities“ (Campbell, 1991). 1 Why does this matter? At this point in the reading, one will wonder why this topic has been broached in an academic setting. One reason is that there needs to be a more equitable approach in the leadership training of our mid-level officers. If we continue to only study the careers of field generals of WW1 and WW2, and Desert Storm as the sole template for leadership, we will continue to deprive our female officer role models they can look up to and identify with, as they climb the ladder of success.
We must start looking at alternative 3 models of leadership, and provide both our men and women with models of leadership that transcend gender. There is a large body of evidence that firmly states that leadership is in large part, gender neutral, and today‘s Air Force offers a vast array of opportunities for both men and women to seek and to excel in a myriad of leadership positions. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to open the door to alternative views on leadership effectiveness and gender. Hopefully, this will enable the reader to come
away with a much broader vision of what military leadership effectiveness is, and we can start to peel away the onion of bias still found throughout our military environment regarding leadership and gender issues. Leadership and Gender Perspectives Throughout history, many have come to believe that leadership is a traditionally masculine activity. Judith A. Kolb talked about this in her article when she stated that —Kanter observed that if women in organizations are to emerge as leaders, it is important that they be perceived as individuals who can influence or motivate others.
“2 A look at research on this dating back to the 1970‘s indicated that there was a tremendous amount of gender bias regarding women‘s achievements in the business sector. More frightening is that as late as 1991, much of this gender bias still exists as seen by the following. A study conducted in 1991 by Shimanoff and Jenkins revealed the following: —when we reviewed this literature we were struck by the prejudice against women. Research has demonstrated that there are far more similarities than differences in the leadership behaviors of women and men, and that they are equally effective.
Still, women are less 4 likely to be pre-selected as leaders, and the same leadership behavior is often evaluated more positively when attributed to a male than to a female. (p. 504)3 Findings dated this recently should be cause for alarm and this is but a small example of the most recent data on this subject. Other similar studies follow suit, when it was reported that group composition could influence leadership emergence. Bunyi and Andrews (1985) found that when males were in the majority, they emerged as leaders 100% of the time.
When females were in the majority, females did emerge as leaders but not beyond the expectations one would have on the basis of chance. In contrast, Schneier and Bartol (1980) observed that the likelihood that a female would emerge as a leader did increase as the number of women in the group increased. “4 Yet another study, taken in 1978, revealed virtually no difference in the numbers of men and women that emerged as leaders. 5 The Kent and Moss study of 1994 —noted in their study that women were slightly more likely than men to be perceived as leaders by group members when the percentage of women per group was controlled statistically.
“ 6 While these studies are interesting to reflect upon, Kolb goes on to state that in no other study has it been shown that women were chosen to be leaders more often than men. Gender Role Orientation There have been numerous studies done examining the aspect of how a person views him or herself in terms of being masculine, feminine or androgynous. A study conducted in 1990 showed that female students in masters of business administration program viewed themselves higher in masculine characteristics than in feminine characteristics. Findings from this study may indicate that —masculine gender role characteristics, rather
5 than biological sex, may be the crucial aspect of gender that is related to leader emergence. “7 This study also showed that women that are high on the organizational charts are often rated much higher on the masculinity scale than are women in the lower ranks of the organization. Further analysis in a similar study revealed that —there was no biological sex difference in the self or group perceptions of leadership. “8 Findings from this report also indicated that males generally self reported higher on the scale of leadership as proven by the following.
—Masculinity was significantly correlated with both self-reported leader emergence and group reported leader emergence,“ supports a major hypothesis of this study. Predictors of Leadership Emergence Again in the study mentioned above, the fact surfaced that —masculinity was the strongest predictor of self-reported leader emergence. “10 Feminine traits did not lend themselves to contributing to the women thinking of themselves as leaders. Only the females with strong masculine attributes considered themselves leaders with any degree of frequency.
In addition, —masculine and androgynous individuals were combined and compared with data from feminine and undifferentiated individuals. The combined 9 and masculine and androgynous group members described themselves more frequently as demonstrating knowledge and having experience than did the feminine and undifferentiated group members“. 11 —There was also one significant difference for group reports. Feminine and undifferentiated group members were described by other members as soliciting input with greater frequency than were masculine and androgynous group members.
“ 12 6 Discussion of Findings As the essence of this paper purports, we find —As expected, the results for quantitative and qualitative analyses confirmed that there is virtually no difference in self or group assessments of leader emergence attributable to biological sex. “13 Other interesting findings from this study include data regarding the notion of taking charge. —Females described themselves with greater frequency than did males as taking charge. Other group members seen as contributing ideas, suggestions, and opinions described males with greater frequency.
This latter finding is noteworthy because people who talk more frequently are identified as leaders more often than less talkative members of a group. “ 14 This —finding also shows that in classroom situations, females described themselves as leaders in a higher frequency than did males, and indicates that, at least in classroom situations and on anonymous questionnaires, females are not inhibited in acknowledging their own leadership capabilities. “15 Historical Conclusions In the above studies, the stage has been set for subsequent dialog by providing a quick glimpse of some of the more recent data on leadership emergence and gender.
Although not even remotely exhaustive in nature, this does beg the question of looking at some modern leadership theories, while providing a foundation from which to look at the rest of the topics that will be presented as we delve further into this issue. Notes Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy. 1993: Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience. Richard D. Irwin, INC, p. 6 2 Kolb, Judith A. Are We Still Stereotyping Leadership? SMALL GROUP RESEARCH, Vol. 28 No. 3, August 1997 p. 370 3 ibid, p. 371 1