Gender ratio, societal culture and male and female leadership

I.H. van Emmerik*, H. Wendt, M.C. Euwema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Top management teams are worldwide largely composed of men, with relatively few female members. The gender ratio in top management is indicative of the position of women in management within the organization, as well as related to leadership behaviours of male and female managers. In the present study, the relative importance of societal culture, organizational, and individual characteristics in explaining leadership behaviours and the associations of gender and gender ratio with leadership behaviours are studied. Hypotheses are tested with multi-level analyses using a dataset with information from subordinates rating leadership behaviours of 12,546 managers in 437 organizations in 32 countries. The results show that in a three-level model (i.e., societal, organizational, and individual level) to explain leadership behaviours, differences in leadership behaviours are predominantly explained by individual differences, followed by organizational and societal differences. Further, after controlling for societal influences, a higher gender ratio (relatively more female managers), was positively associated with consideration and negatively related to initiating structure. Moreover, for male managers, there was a negative association between gender ratio and initiating structure, indicating that male managers in organizations with more female managers tend to engage less in initiating structure, whereas the leadership behaviours of female managers were not associated with the gender ratio.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-914
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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