The study's purpose is to present and empirically test a model that identifies academic self-concept as a mediator of the relationship between gender, sexual orientation and self-perceptions of leadership ability.
Surveys were administered to 964 first-year undergraduate students.
Academic self-concept mediated the relationship between gender and leadership for all subjects and for self-reported heterosexual subjects but not for self-reported nonheterosexual subjects.
Gender differences in leadership perceptions still exist and appear as early as the college years. The fact that academic self-concept did not mediate the relationship between gender and self-perceptions of leadership for nonheterosexual students might be explained by considering research that has identified different levels of gender conformity between straight and gay individuals.
Student self-perceptions of leadership could be improved if opportunities were provided for students showing that people other than White, male, heterosexuals can also be effective leaders. When women and underrepresented groups attain leadership positions in the workplace, it attracts others because it sends a message that this organization welcomes women and underrepresented groups in positions of leadership.
This study addresses a gap in the field by using the social identity theory of leadership to integrate conflicting research streams in the existing literature and by proposing that academic self-concept underlies the relationship between gender, sexual orientation and self-perceptions of leadership. The study responds to Bark et al.'s (2016) call for future research to consider how highly prototypical individuals have a key advantage in people's perceptions of their leadership.
Miles, J.A. and Naumann, S.E. (2021), "Gender, sexual orientation, academic self-concept and leadership", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-05-2020-0101Download as .RIS
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