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Gender‐typicality of economic sectors and gender‐composition of working groups as moderating variables in leadership research

Hans‐Joachim Wolfram (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK)
Gisela Mohr (University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 15 June 2010




Meta‐analytic evidence exists that the numerical dominance of one gender group among employees can affect the behaviour of female and male leaders. The purpose of this paper is to hypothesis that leaders will show more transformational behaviour when they hold a minority status. Transformational behaviour might help to mitigate discrepancies between male leaders' gender and the feminine context, as well as between female leaders' gender and the masculine leadership role.


N1=455 team members answered questionnaires about their work satisfaction and their team leaders' transformational leadership, whilst N2=142 team leaders answered questions regarding their teams' goal fulfillment.


Female and male leaders are rated more transformational in economic sectors and working groups where they hold a minority status. The paper finds a positive interrelation between transformational leadership and followers' work satisfaction for male leaders, but not for female leaders.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should compare female and male leaders from extremely gender‐typed economic sectors and from higher levels of the organisational hierarchy. This would provide evidence whether the findings could be generalised to other samples.

Practical implications

The findings point to the potential advantage of being a high‐transformational male leader in female‐dominated contexts. Irrespective of the numerical dominance of one gender group, followers of low‐transformational female leaders are more satisfied than those of low‐transformational male leaders.


The paper uses sector‐level (gender‐typicality of economic sectors) as well as group‐level data (gender‐composition of working groups) to account for the numerical dominance of female and male employees.



Wolfram, H. and Mohr, G. (2010), "Gender‐typicality of economic sectors and gender‐composition of working groups as moderating variables in leadership research", Gender in Management, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 320-339.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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