Essays on Does Gender Matter in Leadership Literature review

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The paper "Does Gender Matter in Leadership" is a good example of a management literature review.   David, James, & Alfred, (2004) defines gender is a form of social inequality where females and males are defined as being different in ways that are socially significant and tries to justify inequality based on these differences. Gender differences have been perceived to be pervasive in interaction. In addition, studies show that individuals with equal status and power show very little gender differences in their behaviour (Eagly, 2005). Furthermore, interactions between men and women take place in structural context status or roles relations which are not equal.

It has been argued that power and status differences make men and women recreate gender systems. Leadership is a social aspect that has attracted major debates from time immemorial Cecilia, & Lynn 1999 A leader is a person in charge of a certain team or group. A leader has power over some people in addition to having the authority of making decisions on behalf of the group (Kahn, 1994). Leadership is a social influence process whereby a single individual is able to enlist the support and aid of other people to accomplish a common task (Eagly, 2005).

Even though the term leadership has evolved from dictatorial forms of leadership to participatory forms, leaders still command some power and authority over the group led in terms of decision making. In early times leadership was all about physical strength (Steven, Lynda & Joanne, 2003). This changed with time to force of personality where one strived to get at the top-notch of group’ s hierarchy (David, James, & Alfred, 2004). Today’ s society is moving toward leaders endowed with content, that is, ability to generate new and better ideas.

In spite of these transitions in leadership; debate about whether leaders are born or made has been ongoing for many years (Kahn, 1994). Many theories have been developed over time to support these two conflicting ideologies. Some of these theories include Great man theories, Trait theories, Contingency theories, Situational theories, Behavioural Theories, Participative Theories, Management theories and Relationship theories (Kahn, 1994). This paper explores critically on whether gender matter in leadership. To better discuss this effectively it is imperative that we explore theories that have been devised to provide an explanation on leadership.

This will provide a firm basis for discussing whether gender matter in leadership. Great Man Theory Prior to the mid-twentieth century, it was widely accepted that leaders are born and not made based on the Great Man Theory (Eagly, 2005). It was widely believed that people in society had varying degrees of energy, intelligence and moral force and masses were always led by a few individuals who were superior. Thus it was argued that innate abilities propel individuals to leadership positions and cannot be acquired (David, James, & Alfred, 2004).

It is widely accepted that leaders differ from other people. Thus it is argued that an individual matters in the realm of leadership. Aristotle argued that women are by nature inferior to men and that superior power of virtue implied determines ranks. The virtues, in this case, include wisdom, knowledge, talent, competence and ability which Aristotle argues inborn (Kahn, 1994). These virtues have been found (in life sciences studies) to be connected to biological characteristics of an individual.

These studies indicate that leaders have higher levels of serotonin in comparison to their followers (Eagly, 2005). In spite of this; opponents of this view argue that increased serotonin could be a consequence of leadership itself and not the cause. As the debate on the cause-effect relationship continues, it is becoming evident that leadership is determined by psychological and biological forces innate in individuals (Cawthon, 1996)


Cawthon, DL. (1996). Leadership: The Great Man Theory Revisited. Business Horizons, May-June, pp. 1-4.

Cecilia R., & Lynn, S. (1999). The Gender System and Interaction. Annual Review of Sociology, 25:191-216

David, D., James J. H., & Alfred, R. (2004). Leader succession: does gender matter? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 25, no. 8, pp.678 – 690

Eagly, A. & Johnson, B. (1990). Gender and leadership style: A Meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, vol. 108, no. 2, pp. 233-256.

Eagly, A. 2005. Achieving relational authenticity in leadership: Does gender matter? The Leadership Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 459-474

Kahn, K. 1994. Does gender make a difference? An experimental examination of sex stereotypes and press patterns in Statewide campaigns. American Journal of Political Science, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 162-195

Steven H. A., Lynda, A., & Joanne, C. (2003). Gender and leadership? Leadership and gender? A journey through the landscape of theories. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, pp.43 – 51

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