To determine how different voluntary leaves of absence (parental vs. community service) affect individuals’ preferences for working with either male or female supervisors. Drawing on role congruity theory, the authors examined whether individuals would least prefer supervisors who took voluntary leave that violated role expectations.
In Study 1, participants (n = 372) evaluated supervisors who took different forms of leave (none vs. parental vs. community service). In Study 2 (n = 202), the authors tested an intervention to reduce negative bias toward males taking community service leave. In both studies the authors examined the sex of the supervisor (male vs. female) on perceptions of typicality and supervisor preference.
Males who took community service leave were perceived as most atypical and were least preferred as supervisors. However, providing relevant research-based information about typicality reduced this bias.
The results show that people respond negatively toward males who take community service leave. Managers can help reduce this bias by providing relevant research-based information regarding community service leave.
This work is among the first to explore the consequences of community service leave and how it interacts with supervisor sex. The authors also identify a simple way to reduce bias against males who take community service leave.
Motro, D., Pittarello, A., Nolan, K.P., Shahani-Denning, C. and Lenaghan, J.A. (2023), "The dark side of leave: how voluntary leave shapes preferences for male and female supervisors", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 21-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-05-2021-0267
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