Lost opportunity

Catherine Loughlin (Department of Management, Saint Mary ' s University, Halifax, Canada)
Kara Arnold (Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University, St John ' s, Canada)
Janet Bell Crawford (Department of Management, Saint Mary ' s University, Halifax, Canada)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 30 December 2011



This study aims to test how senior leaders recognize and reward the same leadership behavior in male and female managers.


A total of 120 senior government leaders evaluated simulated performance reviews wherein only manager ' s sex and engagement in individually considerate transformational leadership behavior varied.


Senior leaders (of both sexes) penalized male and female managers for failing to engage in individually considerate transformational leadership behavior (i.e. rating them as significantly less competent and civil, and recommending them for significantly fewer rewards such as salary and promotion) compared to control groups. However, only male managers benefited (in terms of competence ratings, recognition and reward) from being rated high on this behavior.

Practical implications

Findings support arguments in the literature for a “feminization” of leadership, whereby both male and female managers are now penalized for not engaging in individually considerate leadership behavior. However, they also question the extent to which women will get credit for engaging in some of the same transformational leadership behaviors as men.


Researchers and practitioners often collapse across components of the Multi-Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) in measuring transformational leadership behavior. This may obfuscate some of the components being aligned with sex role stereotypes, and therefore unlikely to be rewarded in certain candidates. If the present findings are confirmed by future research, there may be reason to question how the MLQ is being used in research and practice on transformational leadership behavior.



This research was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Loughlin & Arnold. This paper was selected for the Best Paper Proceedings at the Academy of Management Conference, Chicago, IL, August 7-11, 2009.


Loughlin, C., Arnold, K. and Bell Crawford, J. (2011), "Lost opportunity", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 43-64. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610151211199218

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