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Leader evaluations: a new female advantage?

Gary N. Powell (Department of Management, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA)
D. Anthony Butterfield (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Kathryn M. Bartol (Department of Management and Organization, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




The purpose of this study is to examine sex effects in evaluations of transformational and transactional leaders.


A total of 459 part‐time (evening) MBA students, most of whom worked full‐time, read a vignette of either a male or female leader who exhibited either a transformational or transactional leadership style and then evaluated the leader's behavior.


Female‐transformational leaders received more favorable evaluations than male‐transformational leaders, especially from female evaluators. However, evaluations of transactional leaders did not differ according to leader sex, and male evaluators did not evaluate male and female leaders of either style differently.

Research limitations/implications

Evaluators were enrolled in a part‐time graduate program in management; hence, results may not be generalizable to other populations. In addition, the study focused on evaluation of hypothetical rather than actual leaders. The results suggest a female advantage in evaluations of transformational leaders, especially when women are the evaluators. Extension of theories of gender and leadership to account for such results and testing of the extended theories is recommended.

Practical implications

The results suggest the continued presence of sex‐related biases in leader evaluations, although in a different direction than in prior research. Organizations need to take steps to discourage expression of such biases.


Contrary to prior research, the results suggest that sex effects in leader evaluations now favor female leaders more than male leaders.



Powell, G.N., Butterfield, D.A. and Bartol, K.M. (2008), "Leader evaluations: a new female advantage?", Gender in Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 156-174.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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