Theses Doctoral

To Thine Own Self be True? The Influence of Gender Stereotypes on Perceptions of Authentic Leaders

Fudman, Rachel

The goals of the current study were to document the effects of leaders’ relational authenticity on follower impressions, and to explore gender as a boundary condition of the positive effects of this leadership quality. Authentic leadership theory outlines the individual and organizational benefits that result from leaders who judiciously process information through a filter of self-knowledge, and who bring their authentic selves to their actions and relationships. However, research on gender stereotypes demonstrates that as opposed to approaching leadership roles with authenticity, female leaders may need to engage in a certain amount of acting in order to attain legitimacy in spaces traditionally inhabited by men. This work reconsidered authentic leadership theory, and specifically relational authenticity, to take the gender dynamics within existing organizational structures into account. Leader relational authenticity and leader gender were experimentally manipulated in order to test whether some advantages of authentic leadership, in this case favorable impressions and evaluations, apply equally to male and female leaders. Results indicated that those who led with relational authenticity were viewed as more likeable and desirable as a boss than those who did not, and were perceived as more trustworthy for their benevolence and integrity than those who did not. Results of moderated mediation models revealed that relational authenticity can hinder evaluations of women leaders, and that the source of adverse consequences is the enhanced association with gender stereotypes that occurs when women lead with relational authenticity. This was demonstrated by a penalty in judgments of competence and ability exacted from female but not male leaders who were relationally authentic. Further research is required to understand the complex interaction of leaders’ relational authenticity and gender to influence followers’ impressions and outcomes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Burke, W. Warner
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 11, 2015