The Gendered Stereotype of the 'Good Manager' Sex Role Expectations towards Male and Female Managers**

By Gmür, Markus | Management Revue, April 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Gendered Stereotype of the 'Good Manager' Sex Role Expectations towards Male and Female Managers**


Gmür, Markus, Management Revue


In the past 30 years, U.S. and international studies have shown that societal expectations of the 'good manager' are closely related to the male stereotype. However, it is not clear, whether this stereotype is the same for men and women alike in managerial positions. The results of a German study with 625 students and 376 professionals participating between 1997 and 2005 are presented in the short note below. The main findings of the study are: 1. Female managers are expected to conform more closely to male stereotypes than are male managers. 2. Higher expectations are set from women and respondents with practical experience than from men and those who are inexperienced. 3. The most recent trend shows that male stereotypes increasingly dominate over female stereotypes. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of highly structured and controlled procedures in order to prevent sex-related discrimination in organizational selection and performance appraisal.

Key words: Manager, Selection, Sex Roles, Gender Studies, Germany

Introduction

In an article in the German Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology the authors (Rustemeyer/Thrien 1989) asked a provocative question: "The female manager - the male manager: How feminine, how masculine should they be?" Their study responds to a research question, which has been the subject of discussion in the USA since the beginning of the 1970s, but addresses it from a German perspective. Their findings can therefore largely be transferred to the German situation, but (like prior American studies) they leave out a central aspect of this question. Namely, whether the male role stereotype is the same for men and women in managerial positions.

In the 1970s, when the male/female categorization was introduced to theoretical and empirical management research, the "women's liberation movement" was just beginning to spread, and men dominated both management teaching and management practice in all industrialized nations. Thirty years have past and sensitivity to gender relevant issues in Germany seems to be ebbing away (Krell/Karberg 2002), after peaking in the first half of the 1990's. During this period, the proportion of women in managerial positions in business, politics, research and teaching increased considerably. Nevertheless, only 10% or less of top management positions in Germany today are occupied by women. According to statistics published by the European Commission, only 7% of the full professorships at German Universities are held by women in the year 2000. The percent of members of the Human Resources and Organization Committee of the Association of Business Administration Professors who were women in 2001 was 8.5%. The share of top management positions in private industry held by women varies between 5% und 15% from industry to industry and overall correlates negatively with firm size: In 1999, of the 2,071 management and executive board members of the 500 biggest German companies only 18 (0.87%) were women (Schmacke 2000). This percentage is very low compared to figures in Great Britain, France, and Scandinavia.

Numerous reasons for women's continued under-representation were discussed (Küpper 1994). We address one of the explanations in our paper and test it using the results of a structured survey carried out among students and junior managers. This hypothesis is that the under-representation of women in management positions can be attributed to gender-specific stereotypes that are apparent during the recruitment process. Stereotypes are typically personal characteristics or behaviours ascribed to groups of persons (Leyens et al. 1994: 11; Stroebe/Insko 1989: 4ff.). In this study we evaluate gender stereotypical expectations of male and female job applicants. They are less favourable for women because of the perceived incongruity between the female gender role and leadership roles (Eagly/Karau 2002; Hannover 2003; Steffens/Mehl 2003; Wänke et al. …

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