Despite abundant research on the negative effect of gender stereotypes on female leaders, it remains unclear whether leader competence perceived by the subordinates could overcome this backlash effect. Drawing on expectation states theory and expectancy violation theory, the authors investigate how the interaction among leaders' gender roles, leader sex and subordinates' perceived leader competence influences leader effectiveness through subordinates' affective trust.
Data were collected through two-wave surveys among 489 participants from various sectors in different parts of China. SPSS and Hayes PROCESS were used to test the hypotheses.
High competence perceived by the subordinates helps female leaders to overturn the negative effect of masculinity and strengthen the positive effect of femininity, whereas this positive moderation does not hold for male leaders.
This study addresses the ongoing debate about “female advantage” in leadership by showing that female leaders benefit from high perceived competence and are penalized by low perceived competence to a greater extent than male leaders in terms of leader effectiveness.
Funding: This research was funded by the Liberal Arts and Social Science Foundation of MOE (Ministry of Education) of China (16YJC630035) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (71872135).
Hu, L., Jiang, N., Huang, H. and Liu, Y. (2022), "Perceived competence overrides gender bias: gender roles, affective trust and leader effectiveness", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 43 No. 5, pp. 719-733. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-06-2021-0312
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