To read this content please select one of the options below:

Climbing the Himalayas: A cross‐cultural analysis of female leadership and glass ceiling effects in non‐profit organizations

Chin‐Chung (Joy) Chao (University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 November 2011




The present study aims at contributing to the knowledge of organizational communication and cross‐cultural leadership by examining the relationship between cultural values and expected female leadership styles in non‐profit organizations in Taiwan and the US.


In total, 307 Rotarians in Taiwan and the US completed a survey meant to reveal their cultural values and expected female leadership styles. In addition, the method of semi‐structured interviews was used to raise the participants' consciousness of and critical reflections upon social practices regarding female leadership.


The research results are threefold. First, among the three major leadership styles, Rotarians in both countries expect female leaders to display transformational leadership. Second, laissez‐faire leadership style can be better explained by the variables of cultural values and country than transformational and transactional leadership styles. Finally, to successfully confront gender discrimination, female leaders need to oftentimes behave much more progressively and actively and sometimes make necessary compromises of their female qualities to overcome the barriers just like climbing over the Himalayas.

Practical implications

The research findings imply that national culture is not the only factor to account for the expected female leadership styles. Future studies of leadership concepts and styles should include more variables such as organizational culture, political system, language, and feminine or masculine characteristics. Based on the results, the so‐called “glass‐ceiling effects” have been broken bit by bit; yet, female leaders still need to “climb over the Himalayas” and pass through a tortuous, demanding, and exhausting path in order to move upward.


As the first study of its kind, this study has filled the gap by expanding leadership studies to cross‐cultural contexts, thus contributing to the body of human knowledge of cross‐cultural leadership in non‐profit organizations of Rotary Clubs.



Chao, C.(J). (2011), "Climbing the Himalayas: A cross‐cultural analysis of female leadership and glass ceiling effects in non‐profit organizations", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 8, pp. 760-781.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles