Challenging gender stereotypes and leadership

Challenging gender stereotypes in people selecting leaders may stimulate greater fairness.

Research by University of Kent psychologist Dr Georgina Randsley de Moura and psychologists from the universities of Coventry and Sheffield considered how exposure to counter-stereotypic gender role models – for instance, a female engineer – could influence the preferences of individuals choosing between different leadership candidates.

Participants in the research were asked to form an impression of either a female mechanic (counter-stereotypic role model) or a male mechanic (stereotypic role model) and to list ten attributes that this person may have. After completing this role-model task, the participants were introduced to a leadership ‘candidate’. This candidate was either representative of the person’s group or deviated from the group’s norms.

The study found that encouraging counter-stereotypic thinking by exposing the participants to the counter-stereotypic role models positively affected the evaluation and choice of the less representative leadership candidate.

The paper, titled Contesting gender stereotypes stimulates generalized fairness in the selection of leaders, was written by Dr Carola Leicht, of Coventry University; Dr Georgina Randsley de Moura, of the School of Psychology at the University of Kent; and Professor Richard J Crisp, of the University of Sheffield. It is published in the journal The Leadership Quarterly. See here:

For more information please contact Dr Georgina Randsley de Moura.