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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews current evidence that women have particular advantages and disadvantages as leaders. As a potential advantage, women more than men evince a transformational leadership style, which has been linked to enhanced leader and organizational performance. Women’s higher emotional intelligence, ethical standards, and endorsement of benevolent and universalistic values may also confer benefits in some contexts. However, women leaders continue to experience prejudice, discrimination in pay and advancement, and difficulty in obtaining desirable developmental job opportunities. Given this blend of advantage and disadvantage, evidence of women’s leadership effectiveness is mixed. Women leaders are more effective than men mainly in less masculine settings. Existing research suggests also that gender diversity enhances team performance only when teams are managed to overcome group conflict and improves corporate financial outcomes only in firms that are poorly governed or that emphasize innovation. Yet increasingly favourable attitudes towards women leaders and the emergence of a more androgynous cultural model of leadership bode well for women leaders in the future.

Keywords: leadership, leadership style, management, gender, transformational leadership, discrimination against female leaders, leader stereotypes, gender stereotypes, leader effectiveness

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