Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Influence of Gender on the Supervisory Relationship: A Review of the Empirical Research from 1996 to 2010/influence Du Genre Sur la Relation De Supervision : Survol De la Recherche Empirique De 1996 À 2010

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Influence of Gender on the Supervisory Relationship: A Review of the Empirical Research from 1996 to 2010/influence Du Genre Sur la Relation De Supervision : Survol De la Recherche Empirique De 1996 À 2010

Article excerpt

Although health professionals may differ on how they define supervision relative to their discipline and training, Bernard and Goodyear (2004) offer a succinct definition of supervision that encompasses the different roles and associated settings:

An intervention provided by a more senior member of a profession to a more junior member of a profession or members ofthat profession. The relationship is evaluative, extends over time, and has the simultaneous purposes of enhancing the professional functioning of the more junior person(s), monitoring the quality7 of professional services offered to clients, and serving as a gatekeeper for those who are to enter the particular profession, (p. 8)

A critical factor influencing the process and success of supervision is the quality of the supervisor-supervisee relationship (Alderfer & Lynch, 1986; Bernard & Goodyear, 2009; Kaiser, 1992). Research has shown that a positive and productive working alliance along with effective management of interpersonal conflicts are essential for achieving successful supervision (Heru, Strong, Price, & Recupero, 2006; Nelson, Gray, Friedlander, Ladany, & Walker, 200 1 ; Ronnestad & Skovholt, 1993; Worthen & McNeill, 1996). Importantly, the individual characteristics of both the supervisor and supervisee, including their gender, are key components that influence the nature and quality of the relationship (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004; Brock & Sibbald, 1 988; Wetchler, Piercy, & Sprenkle, 1 989).

From a review of the literature with respect to the influence of gender within the supervisory relationship, Crespi (1995) concluded that:

Given that clinical supervision is itself conducted within a relational context, it would seem myopic not to pay attention to the influence of gender on the supervisory relationship. At the same time, given the available research involving the effects of gender on supervision, specifically, supervisors should utilize and interpret available findings with a note of caution, (p. 27)

Since this 1 995 publication, a follow-up review of the empirical literature relative to the influence of gender on the supervisory relationship has not occurred. Hence, the purpose of this article is (a) to review and evaluate the methodology, research design, critical findings, and limitations in current research involving the effects of gender on various aspects of the supervisory relationship (i.e., style, power, discourse, evaluation, and boundaries); and (b) through these evaluations (focusing on strengths and limitations) of the research, to determine the appropriate level of confidence that supervisors can place in the findings/implications from these studies.

Gender has been thought of as a pervasive organizer within cultures, as well as a process of development that shapes one s beliefs, stereotypes, and behavioural expectations (Gilbert & Rossman, 1992). Hence, the supervisory relationship can be thought of as gender sensitive and guided by a supervisor's and a supervisee's views and biases. On this point, Nelson (1991) recommended that supervisors be vigilant with respect to their own gender biases before engaging in supervision. For example, in the past, women had a less powerful status in society than men, which led to a history of resistance to women in supervisory roles (Munson, 1 987). Therefore, some men have been against subordination to women, and because of this, women involved in supervisory relationships with male supervisees have sometimes encountered resistance (Granello, 1996). Moreover, in general, gender differences are expected in terms of the conversational and interpersonal characteristics of supervisors (Nelson & Holloway, 1990), and can likely influence the quality of the supervisory relationship.

Some researchers have shared the viewpoint that some men are less likely to be successful as supervisors because they are sometimes seen as less nurturing and socially oriented, as well as more task-oriented, assertive, and independent than women (Granello, 1996; McHaIe & Carr, 1998; Nelson, 1991; Pruett, 1989; Putney, Worthington, & McCullough, 1992; Tannen, 1994). …

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