Open Conference Systems, ICQQMEAS2015

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Gender stereotyping and successful managers’ personality traits: Does the male managerial fortress still hold?
Konstantinos Vassakis, Evangelos Tsoukatos, Christos Lemonakis

Last modified: 2015-09-24


Although the number of women in managerial positions has grown rather rapidly during the past decades, women remain significantly underrepresented in upper-middle and senior management positions. Theories attempting to elucidate this phenomenon comprise lack of line experience, insufficient career opportunities, gender differences in socialization, the “old boy” network etc. (Schein, 1973, 1979, 2001, 2007; Kilian et al., 2005; Bac and Inci, 2010). Alternative explanations involve gender-role and requisite management characteristics stereotyping (Schein, 2001, 2007; Eagly and Carli, 2003). Groundbreaking is the work of Virginia Schein who in 1973 introduced a 92-item Index (Schein’s Descriptive Index) of human personality traits that was later used to reveal genders’ perceptions of each other and managers with the view to developing sufficient understanding of perceptual hurdles restraining women’s advancement towards conquering managerial positions. Schein’s (1973) “think-manager, think-male” maxim was subsequently and up to the present day researched in quite a multitude of settings (Brenner et al., 1989; de Pillis et al., 2008; Dodge et al., 1995; Schein et al., 1989; Orser 1994; Booysen and Nkomo 2010). With a few distinct exceptions (e.g. Booysen and Nkomo, 2010), however, most published studies, on the subject, report findings from protestant societies. Pursuing the investigation of gender role stereotyping across different cultures will complement current understanding on the topic, especially in view of the “gender paradoxical” findings that have been reported. As it appears, gender role stereotyping and gender-related personality differences are significantly larger in more gender-egalitarian cultures as compared to less egalitarian ones (Costa et al, 2001; McCrae et al., 2005). The purpose of this study is to follow the research trajectory on the relationships between gender role stereotyping and essential managers’ personality traits, originated by Schein (1973), on evidence from Greece that reportedly stands quite apart (e.g. Hofstede, 2005) from the protestant societies that so far have hosted studies on the subject, as reported in the literature. This study is quantitative in nature. Data was collected through two similar, but not identical, research instruments, both built around Schein’s Descriptive Index (SDI) (Schein, 1973) in two stages. Stage one dealt with collecting evidence on respondents’ perceptions of successful managers’ personality traits while stage two with collecting evidence on respondents’ own personality characteristics. Questionnaires were administered on-line to two separate convenience samples of 250 and 200 prospective respondents respectively that produced n1=134 and n2=101 filled and usable questionnaires – response rates 53.6% and 50.5% respectively. All questionnaire items, except demographics, were rated on identical 7-point Likert scales. Reliability analysis (Cronbach’s α) was employed for scale refinement, while intra-class correlation coefficient (r’) (Hays, 1963) was used for assessing the similarity of stage one and stage two respondents’ responses across the SDI items, after refinement. Data analysis resulted in findings directly challenging Schein’s “think manager think male” maxim and, on the other hand, offering support to previous culturally paradoxical findings suggesting gender role stereotyping being larger in gender egalitarian societies. (Costa et al, 2001; Mc- Crae et al., 2005). This study’s findings: a) suggest that perceptions of successful managers’ personality traits between men and women are matching, b) challenge the idea that successful managers’ personality traits are necessarily masculine and c) reveal no differences between men and women in relation to the identification of their own personality traits and d) reveal no differences between men and women in relation to matching their own personality traits with the respective traits of successful managers. Research about gender role stereotype in management on evidence from Greece is scarce (e.g. Mihail, 2006). In view of this scarcity this study contributes to the on-going debate on the subject. As regards practice the study unveils a) lack of gender role stereotyping and b) significant similarity of personality traits across genders, both challenging, in the case of Greece, popular aphorisms such as “Think manager – Think male”, “Old Boys Club” etc., even though the country’s cultural standing is not among the most gender-egalitarian in the world. This study’s findings yield important implications to both academia and practice. In relation to academia the study adds to the literature on existing relationships between gender role stereotyping and perceptions of managerial personality characteristics. Limitations of this study are certainly related to: a) drawing evidence from a convenience sample and b) surveying through the internet. However, due care was taken so that sampling bias was excluded

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