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Role congruity theory

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The role congruity theory proposes that a group will be positively evaluated when its characteristics are recognized as aligning with that group’s typical social roles (Eagly & Diekman, 2005).[1] Coined by Eagly and Karau (2002),[2] prejudice toward female leaders occurs because inconsistencies exist between the characteristics associated with the female gender stereotype and those associated with the typical leadership.

Empirical supportEdit

Women in leadership rolesEdit

One of the two main causes of prejudice preventing women from achievement of high-status positions or success is the perception of women when placed in leadership roles. In an article on prejudice towards female leaders, Eagly and Karau (2002)[3] found that women who are leaders are perceived in a less positive manner when compared to male leaders. Eagly and Karau (2002)[4] also showed that women have a more difficult time achieving high status positions in the workplace and in maintaining these positions through achievement and success. Evidence suggests that prejudice towards women in leadership positions occurs more frequently in situations where larger inconsistencies between female gender roles and leadership roles are present.

Eagly (1987)[5] suggest women due to their socially accepted roles are more often perceived in lower status positions than those of their male counterparts. These accepted gender stereotypes allow for a greater prediction of sex differences between males and females in social behaviors.

Findings consistent with this theory can be seen in evidence presented by Eagly and Karau (1991),[6] who found that men emerged more often than women as leaders. Although women do advance in social leadership roles, positions of leadership involving specialization or behaviors related to a groups purpose are more often attributed to men.

Ritter and Yoder (2004)[7] provide further evidence of gender role differences in leadership positions between men and women. Women and men, based on their level of dominance, were placed in groups consisting of either (man, man), (woman, man), or (woman, woman) and then assigned task randomly. Participants with higher dominance ratings emerged as leaders in all groups except for (woman, man) pairs. When assigned tasks were of a masculine or gender-neutral nature, males emerged more often than females as leaders. These findings suggest that even when women possess dominant characteristics, masculinized task as well as gender stereotypes prohibit the emergence of women into leadership positions.

Women in faculty rolesEdit

Research on role congruity theory further indicates that women in faculty positions struggle with meeting the expectations of the male-dominated role (Whitley & Kite, 2010).[8] Caplan (1994) asserts characteristics associated with the female stereotype (i.e. “nurturance”, “warmth”, and “supportiveness”) are incongruent with the expectations of faculty—which are masculine in nature (i.e. “directive”, “assertive”, “knowledgeable”). Therefore, a female faculty member violates societal expectations for both the categories of women and leader. This violation results in both discrepant expectations for men and women and more negative evaluations of women in such positions. Consistent with role congruity theory, Winocour, Schoen and Sirowatka (1989)[9] found ratings of male professors were not dependent on their lecture style. However, female students were more favorable of a female professor with a discussion-based lecture style and male students only preferred female professor who focused on providing information. Further, Statham, Richardson and Cook (1991)[10] noted students delegated more negative evaluations to female professors with a teaching style low in structure than males regardless of their teaching style. Similarly, Kierstad, D’Agostino and Dill (1988)[11] reported that only female professors who socialized with students received positive ratings; male ratings were not affected by this factor.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Eagly, A. H., & Diekman, A. B. (2005). What is the problem? Prejudice as an attitude-in-context. In J. Dovidio, P. Glick, & L. Rudman (Eds.), On the nature of prejudice: Fifty years after Allport (pp. 19-35). Gospons, Blackwell Publishing.
  2. Eagly. A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002) Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109, 573-598.
  3. Eagly. A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002) Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109, 573-598.
  4. Eagly. A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002) Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109, 573–598.
  5. Eagly, A.H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  6. Eagly, A.H., & Karau, S. J. (1991) Gender and the emergence of leaders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 685–710
  7. Ritter, B.A., & Yoder, J.D. (2004). Gender differences in leader emergence persist even for dominant women: An updated confirmation of Role Congruity Theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 187-193.
  8. Whitley, B.E.; Kite, M.E. (2010), The psychology of prejudice and discrimination, Belmont, CA: Whitley, B.E.; Kite, M.E. (2010), The psychology of prejudice and discrimination, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
  9. Winocur, S. Shoen, L. G., & Sirowatka A. H. (1989). Perceptions of male and female academics within a teaching context. Research in Higher Education, 30, 317-329.
  10. Eagly, A.H., & Karau, S. J. (1991) Gender and the emergence of leaders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 685-710.
  11. Kierstead, D., D’Agostino, P., & Dill, H. (1988). Sex role stereotyping of college professors: bias in students’ ratings of instructors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 324-344.
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