Comparing Power Use: How Men and Women Use Power
Power may be the most important issue of the 1990s. It is coming into focus in more and more contexts: in leadership, in management, in families, in friendship relations, and in most other interpersonal contacts. Research evidence provides some interesting insights when we compare how men and women use power. Sex-based perspectives of power as a political aspect of relationships may offer guidance to both men and women as they use power in their interpersonal relations. How each uses power, what tactics each emphasizes, and when and in what contexts they use it are critical to full understanding of power use ( Abrahams, 1989). How men and women differ in how they value its use may help us clarify some of the knotty problems now facing participants in the workplace as women assume more prominent positions.
More women are taking their place in significant positions in organizations. We can expect that their special ways of using power will result in significant differences in power use in informal or formal institutions. Of course, this assumes that the signs of differences alluded to in earlier chapters are sustained over time. Key among these emerging changes are those dealing with alteration of the male-dominant culture typical in many organizations ( White, 1990). We may see dramatic changes in the sociology of organizational life.
Some writers have tried to distinguish methods, results, or situational constraints on power based on sex. McClelland's work ( 1975) in power motivation concluded there is little evidence to support the idea that women have different power needs than men. He does conclude, however, that women express their