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GENDER AND LEADERSHIP:
MEN AND WOMENS' STORIES
Barbara A. Karanian
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
Doctor of Philosophy
Lesley College Graduate School
I will always be thankful to Paul Rosenkxantz my first psychology teacher, and pioneer
in the study of the psychology of gender, with whom I talked about gender, authority, and
leadership long before I thought about this dissertation. His capacity for care provided
encouragement and enlightenment, and will always be remembered.
I especially want to thank my doctoral committee. First, I am grateful to Barry
Sugarman, my advisor, who saw in my work a dissertation, and patiently and creatively
helped to focus my study. His kindness, intellect, and persistence guided me to carry the
project to completion. Thanks to Eileen Entin, colleague and friend, who provided
enthusiasm and support. Her expert quantiative and conceptual abilities were
extraordinarily helpful. To Jill Tarule, I would like to extend special appreciation. Her
support in my preliminary examination was the foundation for this dissenation, and her
extraordinary capacity to work closely on this project, is greatly appreciated.
To Kim Golis and Denise Carver for the fruits of painstaking coding labor. I owe a
large debt to Scott Collard, Pat Hafford, Mark Juitt, and William Wessel for their work as
To my students and colleagues at Wentworth Institue of Technology for their support.
I especially wish to thank Joanne Tuck, Michael Greene, Jonathan Ripley, William
Westland, Arthur Thompson, and John VanDomelen.
I have also co-taught with Hugh O'Doherty and Clarissa Sawyer, while we were
teaching fellows for Lee Bolman in the Power and Leadership course at Harvard
University. I learned from their contributions, and they stirred up my thinking and images
To my professors of Psychology at Holy Cross College, especially Ogretta McNeil for
always finding the time to encourage my research.
My brother Thomas Karanian deserves a very special thanks for volunteering his
talent, wit, time, and computer expertise during my entire doctoral study and especially in
the final presentation of this dissertation. To you and my entire Karanian family,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table Of Contents ii
Table Of Tables iii
Chapter I: Literature Review 4
Theoretical Perspectives Of Leadership 4
Gender Issues And Leadership: The Leadership Leap . 9
Background And Purpose Of Study 38
Chapter II: Method 41
Conduct Of Pre-Test 41
Subjects , 42
Development Of Instruments . 42
Procedure For Data Collection 48
Chapter III: Results 57
Reliability Of Story Coding , 57
Validity Of The Connection Measure: Cross Validity With L-BLA .... 58
Connection Results 59
Separate Results 72
Hostile Results 76
Chapter IV: Discussion 79
Constructing Leadership 79
Connection Not Related To Boss Gender 82
Women Use More Connection Themes 91
Separate Discussion 96
Hostility Discussion 99
Final Note 106
Chapter V: Summary and Conclusions . 107
TABLE OF TABLES
Figure 1 Connection Category 53
Figure 2 Separate Category 55
Figure 3 Hostile Category 56
Table 1 Percentage Agreement between Coders for Categories 58
Table 2 Cross-Validity: L-BLA as Validity Criterion for Connection ...... 59
Table 3 Connection Responses by Sex of Subject 61
Table 3a Connection Responses for Authority Alone by Sex of S 64
Table 3b Connection Responses for Authority with Group by Sex if S ...... . 64
Table 4 Means for Picture Type by Sex of Respondent 66
Table 5 L-BLA R Means for Pictures of Authority by Sex of S . . . 68
Table 6 L-BLA R Means for Picture of Authority with a Group by Sex S . . . 68
Table 7 Analysis of Variance 70
Table 7a Summaries of L-BLA R Overall Relational Mean 71
Table 8 Separate Responses by Sex of S 74
Table 8a Separate Responses for Authority Alone by Sex of S 75
Table 9 Hostilty Responses by Sex of S 78
Gender and Leadership: Men and Womens' Stones Barbara A. Karanian
This dissertation looks at gender and leadership using conceptual frameworks from the
psychology of women, work place role, and concepts of leadership.
Findings about projective imagination suggest that women and men perceive and construct
the relationship between self and others in different ways. Organizational research indicates that
the thinking about leadership has shifted from the unreachable "heroic model" to the more adaptive
leader. This dissertation demonstrates that there are two modes of thinking-connection and
separate--the can be identified and reliably coded in individual's stories of an authority figure. To
support this claim, it explores the link between gender, authority figure and leadership through the
connected versus separate lens. Results suggest that women and men are telling stories about a
different kind of boss, a new model of authority, and an evolving theory of leadership that is not
Fifty-two subjects, employed at four Massachusetts companies, responded to two
instruments: a picture stimulus, and a leadership inventory (The Lipman-Blumen Leavitt
Achieving Styles Inventory). Both instruments were utilized to form a story about the boss.
Respondents generated stories to a picture with either a male or a female as an authority stimulus.
Stories were coded for three imagery areas: connection, separate, and hostility. Data was analyzed
according to a modified version of the coding scheme first developed by Lyons ( 1983).
There were four major findings. First, gender was an influence in how leadership is
defined. Second, connected leading was central in the evolving leadership picture of the boss.
Third, separate leading was a male image, mainly applied to the male boss. Finally, more hostile
boss stories were written by men than by women.
The current research suggests that gender influences the construction of authority through
connected and separate images. Leadership seen in this perspective, is a struggle to include
connection, along with separate, as an integral and neglected aspect of the ways subordinates
This research began with some hunches about the effects that women in authority have
on leadership in the worlcplace. Both experience and study suggested that women, as
leaders and as followers, changed the entire picture of boss-employee relationships.
Considering gender as part of the concept of what a boss is, seemed to be contained in the
broader landscape of people's conceptions of themselves, their roles at work, and their
image of leadership. In this perspective two distinct themes become important: 1 ) the
concept of leadership, and 2) the psychology of women.
Much of previous research on gender and leadership appeared stereotypically drawn
and too based on an assumed all-male world to reflect the reality of the work environment.
Since the 1950's theorists have not relied on a trait approach to examine leadership and no
single cluster of personality characteristics is capable of defining leadership. Discussion of
women's impact on the workplace and their role in defining leadership, however, has been
limited to a gender-role conception of masculine or feminine characteristics.
In my attempts to understand leadership roles at work, I was sure that a central
explanatory principle was the distinction between connected and separate ways of
knowing (Gilligan, 1982; Lyons, 1982; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule, 1986).
Connected and separate ways of self definition correspond to different ways individuals
define the universe and their "self-in-relation" to it. Connection relies on closeness, care,
and including others in maintaining relationships, while separation is based on distance,
withdrawal, and the importance of the right answers. Women appear to be more tilted
toward connection and men more tilted toward separation. Just as recognizing these ways
of knowing has revolutionized thinking about moral development, I believe it could make
an equally important contribution to our thinking about leadership.
Some studies look at gender theory, especially connected and separate ways of
knowing but this perspective has not yet made any impact on the field of leadership
studies. This study looks at gender and leadership through a lens that makes use of the
difference between connected and separate.
It is difficult to find other examples of research where the connected/separate lens is
used to understand leadership. This study is also innovative in methodology, using a
projective picture test, to elicit respondents' stories. The stories written about the "boss"
shown in the picture, offer some valuable insights into how an employee constructs
mentally what it means to be boss, authority, or leader. This is an approach that is not
commonly used either in leadership or connection research.
The conceptual focus and methodological approach together are what distinguish this
research from most works on leadership. The analysis points out how gender plays an
important role in redefining leadership because of an individual's conception of gender, of
workplace role, and images about leadership. Women and men are telling stories about a
different kind of boss, a new model of authority, and an evolving theory of leadership that
is not gender specific. One cannot understand leadership in a mixed-sex workplace
without taking account of the sex of the boss and that of the subordinate. Those
differences at both the authority end of the relationship and the subordinate (end of the
relationship) interact in many ways to shape the outcome, including the way they shape the
views and feelings of employees as they construct leadership.
A. Theoretical Perspectives on Leadership
Examination of leadership research through the years takes us to the foundation of
some of the interesting questions concerning leadership. It also helps to distinguish among
the many ways leadership is defined.
While it appears that every possible angle has been considered in the discussion of
leadership, definition is still a major issue. Our expectations, needs, and understanding of
leadership have grown more sophisticated and complex. As a result, the problems of
defining leadership are many. The first part of this chapter concerns the evolving theory of
Intrigued by those who create conditions that motivate others in organizations,
researchers have examined interesting questions about leadership. Gardner (1986, p. 5)
explains that while it is convenient to use men and women known to everyone, such
leaders are usually at a fairly lofty level. But there is an aura that tends to surround the
words "leader" and "leadership" that makes it hard to think clearly (Gardner, 1986, p.l).
When Bennis (1959, p. 259) surveyed the leadership literature he concluded that the
concept of leadership eludes us or turns up in another form to taunt us with its slipperiness
and complexity. Although we have invented an endless stream of terms, the concept is not
sufficiently defined. Some representative definitions of almost fifty years of research
attempt to demystify the meaning of leadership.
Leadership is referred to as the initiation and maintenance of structure in expectation
and interaction (Stogdill, 1974, p. 411). It is the influential increment over and above
mechanical compliance with the routine directives of the organization (Katz and Kahn,
1978, p. 528). Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an organized
group toward goal achievement (Rauch and Behling, 1984, p. 46). And, leading from a
position of authority means identifying the adaptive challenge (Kotter, 1991, p. 4, Heifitiz,
1994, p. 128).
History has changed greatly since early theorizing about leadership. The great-man
theory, for example, is little more than a discussion of the effects men had on a particular
point in history (Bass, 1981). Women were absent from this picture of leadership.
Dispelling the great man theory of leadership, Bums suggests that the average person, not
just prime ministers and presidents, exert quiet leadership every day ( 1978, p. 442).
Later, this image was replaced with the idea that leadership means influencing others to
follow the leader's vision. The search for understanding how a leader was remembered as
inflluential led to countless trait-approach studies (Goode, 1951; Stogdill, 1948).
Beginning in the '50s and surfacing briefly again in the '80s (Conger, 1988), researchers
argued that personality traits were the key to understanding and identifying leadership.
Factor analysis was used for the purpose of investigating a long Ust of personality traits.
These included personal background, age, height, and even looks. Personality traits
clustered around culturally determined conceptions of leadership like dominance,
persuasiveness, assertiveness, and charisma (Bass, 1981, p. 46)^ Despite numerous
studies, researchers found the trait approach to leadership unscientific and discounted
ideas that an individual's rise to power is based on some amazing combination of personal
expertise, behavioral qualities, or physical characteristics. The work on leadership since
then can be grouped into four general theoretical models for leadership: situational
leadership, contingency theory, transactional leadership, and transformational leadership.
The Ohio leadership studies (Hemphill, 1950; Stogdill and Coons, 1957; Fleishman,
1973; Bass, 1981) in Schein (1985, p. 170) paved the way for what is referred to today as
situational leadership. In the situational view the demands for leadership vary and are
dependent on the context in which the leader functions (Hersey and Blanchard, 1977;
Fiedler (1967) created the contingency model when he distinguished leaders who see
great differences in task effectiveness among their subordinates from leaders who see their
subordinates as similar. This model combines the great man approach with situational
theories. Theories that explain leadership effectiveness in terms of aspects of the situation
that enhance (or not) the effects of a leader's traits, are contingency theories. Contingency
theory is most complete when it describes how the situation moderates the relationship
between leader traits and effectiveness (Fiedler and Chemers, 1974).
Leadership theory expanded into a transactional model when the relationships between
leaders and followers became the focus, shifting the focus to the issue of how influence is
gained and maintained (Heifitz and Sinder, 1988) in interaction. Leaders not only
influence followers, they are under their influence as well. A leader may specifcally earn
influence by adjusting to the expectations of others (Heifetz, 1994, p. 17).
One of the central purposes of the present study, in line with the transactional
approach, is to tap into the private realites of subordinates to examine how their
understandings of an authority is shaped by gender and influences the definition of
A transactional leadership model can be applied in many forms. In one variant of the
transactional approach, the effort of the authority is directed towards how to involve
followers and facilitate participation in leadership decision-making (Tannenbaum and
Schmidt, 1958; Vroom and Yetton, 1973). The present study aims to explore the role of
"connection" in subordinates' thinking about the leader's approach, which is directly
influenced by the authority's tendencies to establish a climate of interpersonal concern,
close relationships, and genuine promotion and encouragement of a follower's work.
Connected leading, or its absence, contributes in a major way to the defintion of a
Leadership theory that takes the focus of the relationships between leaders and
followers is referred to as transactional. Leadership here is viewed as a matter of how
influence is gained or maintained in interaction (Heifetz and Sinder, 1988). When
researchers theorized that leadership was more than influence or dependent on single
variable indicators, new questions surfaced. How is leadership more than a designated
authority's vision (Bennis, 1985)? What happens in the interaction between the
subordinates and the authority when the followers depend on the leader to have all the
answers (Heifetz, 1994)? What is the leader's impact on emerging leadership (Bennis,
Transfonnational leadership was an attempt to address these questions (Burns,
1978). The rise of the transformaaonai model was not only or mainly due to theoretical
pressures. Changes in the corporate world, driven by new intensities of global
competition (Kotter, 1985) , were showing up the weakness of the "heroic model" of
leadership (Maccoby, 1981) underlying all previous leadership approaches. The leader,
according to the new veiw, could therefore be a teacher who enlightened by encouraging
group members to take a leadership role (Heifetz, 1994, p. 251). The present study will
focus on the ways a subordinate imagines that the authority acts as a leader through
connection and whether these ways are different for men and women.
Leadership theory has moved from descriptive models of effective leadership to
theories that invite individuals to exarmne definitions of leadership every day. Current
theories are mainly prescriptive, and no longer have a hero model focus (Bolman and
Deal, 1991; Kanter, 1990; Oshry, 1982). Whether theory relies on descriptions of effectve
leading or prescriptions for organizational progress, definitions require deeper
B. Gender Influence: The Leadership Leap
Of significance for this study is the issue oi gender influence on leadership. Many
factors interrelate in the discussion about how an individual makes sense out of the
complexities of interpersonal relationships between bosses and employees. Consciously or
unconsciously employees believe gender is an especially sahent factor. This belief shapes
the way people view their relationships at work.
Experts may claim that should not make a difference, but more emphasis than ever
appears placed on what "femaleness" and ''maleness" means at work. In the midst of
change and often competitive relations between men and women, researchers agree about
some intrinsic differences. Men are seen as tilted toward becoming differentiated and
separate, whereas women spend more time tilted toward integration and connection.
Women are expected to have more difficulty emerging from embeddedness in the
interpersonal, and men more difficulty emerging from emeddedness in the institutional
(Kegan, 1986, p. 210). Extreme sex-role stereotypes continue to label men as the active
ones who get things done, and women as the passive ones who are invisible or
incompetent (Belenky and others, 1986). Women are expected to blindly obey authority
and men encouraged to challenge or be that authority. These polarized gender lines are
limiting and offer an incomplete picture of the gender influences on leadership.
Investigations of organizational behavior and leadership have usually relied on male
models. For the most part, women have been excluded from the discussions of leadership.
While several studies have investigated the role of women in organizations, this discussion
is fairly new and limited. In most cases, descriptions and analyses focus on the successful
women manager or ways to succeed as a women in management. There is little serious
analysis of how women, as leaders, are responded to, while there is even less challenge to
the norms for the existing power structures in organizations.
The purpose of this part of the literature review is to examine how or the ways that
women and men interpret the behavior of their leaders, and in turn consider the resulting
impact on responses to the boss at work. Feminist phase theory provides a useful
mechanism for the consideration of gender issues and leadership. The five stages of
feminist theory are first discussed then differences in expectation that shape the conception
of leadership are explored.
Discussion about gender issues and leadership has passed through many seasons in 25
years. We began by wondering about a woman's place. Wonder turned to worry that
women were ignored. The controversy grew with concerns about justice and equity in the
workplace. Then the discussion turned to "glass ceilings." The controversy widened to
include gender-specific styles. Today the discussion centers on the not so surprising
possibility that women offer a new definition for leadership at work. Understanding ways
to think about men and women in an interactional mode is an important foundation for a
new paradigm about leadership.
Feminist phase theory provides a useful mechanism for considering how issues of
gender and leadership have been considered. The five stages of feminist phase theory
(Twombly, 1991) are:
1 . Womanless stage
2. Woman Worthies stage
3. Bifocal Scholarship stage
4 Feminist Scholarship stage
5. Multifocal Scholarship
Stage 1 . Womanless
Theorists agree that in the womanless stage that the male experience is reported as
exemplary (Twombly, 1991, p. 12). There is no recognition by researchers in this stage
that the existence of women calls for more comprehensive theory buildmg.
In a descriptive study exploring the role of women engineers in management (Karanian,
1982), results showed that while almost 24% of the engineers graduating were women,
less than 2% became managers. In the areas of mechanical, manufacturing, and civil
engineering, the number of women graduates was slightly smaller and the corresponding
proportion of women in management was less than 1%. Researchers speculated that
women were ignored in the development, reaction, and promotion to positions of
A decade later, a U.S. News and World Report study (June, 1991) reported that the
numbers of women in leadership roles had increased only slightly from 2% to 47o.
Compounding that Faludi reported in 1992 only 2 women sitting on the boards of all
Fortune 500 companies.
Even when Burns (1978) dispels the notion of the "great man theory" of leadership, he
doesn't orient his discussion specifically to women. He suggests that the average person
exerts quiet leadership every day (1978, p. 442). In many traditional work places the
average person was, and often remains male.
Historically women were not supposed to be seen, or heard at work. The notion that
women are not visible and ignored is the essence of stage 1 (Schuster and VanDyne,
1984). That women would be considered in any discussion of leadership in stage 1 is out
of the question.
Stage 2: Women Worthies
This stage seeks to compensate for the absence of women and women's
experience(Tetreault, 1985). Here scholars identify women who were missed when the
history books were first written. Twombly cites feminist historians (Lefkowitz-Horowitz,
1984; Rossiter, 1982; Solomon, 1985) who have enlarged the view of higher education by
including women such as M. Carrie Thomas, who met male standards of excellence
established by great university men of the late 19th century (1991, p. 12). This stage stops
just counting women to assert that woman made important contributions.
While literature at this stage focuses on women making contributions, finding multiple
examples of women in positions of leadership is another story. Perhaps unknowingly,
writers mainly detail examples of women making mistakes. Similar to the an world where
historians taught us that women existed as models not as artists, in the work world we
learned that women were subordinates molded by superior men. When women didn't
quite fit the mold they were thought of as outcasts or troublemakers.
Women leaders are often compared to the men who preceded them. An attribute of
stage two is that women are judged by a male model of excellence but are presented
women as pioneer role models. One illustration of this stage are outstanding women
administrators whose careers conformed closely to the men preceding them (Twombly,
1991). Other examples include women who kept their success and promotion a secret for
fear that other women steal their secrets and gamer the few token slots available. In an
academic example, Professor Margarita Levin, wife of anti-feminist scholar Michael Levin,
admitted that if there were more women in the math department her achievement would
have seemed less spectacular. If women reached parity on the faculty, she might no longer
be one of the "very few wonhies" (Faludi, 1991, p. 299).
Similarly, the term "Queen Bee" syndrome was corned to brand the women who
achieved the position of leadership but didn't encourage, guide, or coach other vvomen and
subordinates. Instead of blarmng these women, this stage offers a framework for kindness
and helps us understand that behaving like a "Queen Bee" may have been the only way to
survive as a women chosen for management.
Understanding the few women in these positions wasn't always easy. Many remember
Mary Cunningham's wholesome smiling face on magazine covers in the early '80s.
Readers were confused and dismayed by reports that this successful Harvard Business
School graduate quickly climbed to the executive level at Bendix Corporation because she
was sleeping with the boss. Male and female classmates revealed in news reports
ridiculously insignificant data about Ms. Cunningham's reserved, detached personality and
her extensive conversations with professors following class. Comparisons were made to
other more academically qualified classmates who were not yet in executive positions.
The truth about Bendix included organizational problems and a C.E.O. with a failing
marriage. The woman involved became the focus for all that went wrong. Mary
Cunningham exemplified the superhuman power sometimes ascribed to the few women in
leadership positions. Retrospective observers are left wondering if Mary Cunningham was
distorted by the media as a negative example of women and leadership m a society not
convinced women should exercise authority at work.
Because women are compared to men at this stage there are problematic outcomes.
While women can be in the same leadership role as men, limitations arise when women are
seen as different or deficient. Second, being a pioneer includes the sometimes painful
consequence that when old rules don't apply, new rules may be harsh or unfair. In the
case of women in positions of leadership, misinformed assumptions may explain why
people believe that women bring dangerous differences to the workplace. Reports that
women's "feminine" ways at work can be synonymous with subterfuge may be a result of a
very limited view. Further, it may suggest a need to redefine norms concerned with
understanding gender differences in response to leadership.
Ever since the famous sex-role inventory (Vogel, Broverman, Broverman, and
Rosenkrantz, 1972), researchers have utilized "masculine" and "feminine" identities as a
foundation for understanding varying images of gender. In often cited examples, initial
gender research explored the relationship between management status and the individual's
gender role orientation, as measured by such instruments as Bem's (1974) Sex Role
Inventory. The few studies exploring this issue found a strong relationship between
leadership status and masculine identity. The successful manager was not only defined by
"masculine" characteristics like dominant, strong, and logical, the assumption was that a
woman could not be effective in such a leadership role because "feminine" characteristics
were ascribed to unsuccessful managers. In other words, "feminine" characteristics like
submissive, sensitive, weak and illogical did not link to the "masculine" identity perceived
as necessary for leadership.
The paradox is that although woman were worthy to contribute they were not worthy
enough to be considered in explorations of leadership. When women were identified in
glowing terms, her successful promotion or management style was often ascribed to some
successful male role-model or mentor.
It is not difficult to see the limitations of comparing worthy women to the men before
them. So researchers began to cite the valuable qualities that women as managers bring to
organizations (Grant, 1988; Loden, 1985). Although worthy, however, they make slow
progress towards positions of leadership. When they reached mid-levels of management,
they learned fast that higher levels of leadership danced forever out of reach.
To understand more about the women in management positions researchers tried to
uncover which women are promoted. Jan Grant (1988, p. 56) suggested that when
organizations reproduce themselves, they tend to advance people who are most like
themselves. The promoting ladder, she asserted, had a deeply male foundation, and
climbing it was clarified by an existing male hierarchy.
When Grant (1988) reported research that considers gender-based differences in
manager behavior, the discussion turns to stage three: bifocal scholarship.
Stage 3: Bifocal Scholarship
Three themes identify this stage. First, men and women are conceptualized as
generalized, separate, and complementary groups. A second theme is the anger that
resulted from women's oppression: Why is so little known? Why aren't there more
women? And, a third theme is the attempts to overcome oppression through networks,
educational experiences, and innovative strategies (Twombly, 1991, p. 13). It is at this
stage where the bulk of all the research about women is found.
When the discussion conceptualizes women and men as different and separate groups,
practitioners criticize the results. Deaux (1984) cautions that research evidence of broad
psychological differences is not significant. Despite the intense interest on the pan of
journalists and the public, some psychologists have become uneasy about research that
compares the sexes and now believe that such work ought to be discouraged (Eagly,
1995, p. 145). But bifocal scholarship was the necessary foundation for further work.
This stage of separating, comparing, and presenting polar differences was an important
step towards understanding what happens when men and women are together.
Researchers needed to first consider gender separately, hypothesizing correctly that
women were perceived to have different characteristics and experiences from men.
Without the opportunity to further scrutinize woman's experience as unique and important
in and of itself, woman were never going to believe that equality at work would occur.
Particular questions about whether males are more innately "powerful" or "aggressive"
are examples of qualities linked to leadership that have received considerable attention.
Through the highly acclaimed theory of sociobiology (Wilson, 1975), we learned that
biologically based sex differences in aggression play a central role in explaining how
human dominates human. Therefore, it is argued that in male-female relations, the more
aggressive men dominate women (Salzman, 1979, p. 71). This theory is then used to
explain why women play a subordinate position in everything from the family to the
The sex difference in aggression is just one example of a characteristic used to explain
why we have more male leaders but there are a couple of reasons why this claim is
significant. Sex differences in aggression, basea m biological theor>' or not, plays a
fundamental role in a number of theories. Second, there are methodological difficulties in
establishing a gender base for complex behavior, like aggression.
In order to consider how or if sex differences in aggression explain why there are so
many male leaders and so few female leaders, it is important to assess the studies
conducted. Although the notion that males are more innately aggressive (Maccoby and
Jacklin, 1974) is used in arguments to explain the consistently more aggressive behavior of
boys, there are problems with validity. The concept of aggression is ambiguous. To define
the trait scientifically would seem impossible. The dictionary defines aggression as an
"unprovoked attack" or "physical assault." In everyday language, however, the term
explains a whole range of attributes from anti-social behavior to combative behavior to
highly regarded social behavior, such as competitiveness and dominance (Salzman, 1979,
p. 73). Competitiveness and dominance are not only socially significant behaviors, they
are also considered to be necessary traits for leaders.
Studies also tend to cluster a variety of traits and motives that are not necessarily
related to one another (Salzman, 1979, p. 74). When authors Maccoby and Jacklin (1974,
p. 368) indicate that male dominance and leadership has been linked to aggression, they
state that it is the "killer instinct" that is involved in achieving success in the business
world. They further state that there will be a smaller number of women than men who will
have the temperament for it. Finally, they predicted a shift toward more nonaggressive
leadership styles in high-level management. The methodological problem includes the fact
that the researchers extended the use of the term "aggression" to explain motives at work
and the lack of female leaders. While the predicted shift in leadership style is an
interesting one, it is necessary to consider more than the assumption about the way most
males behave in a discussion of aggression and change at work. Behavior of females, and
the interaction of males and females in competitive situations at work, are important
Researchers investigated gender and management by comparing female behavior to
male behavior. Some expected to learn that males managed differently than females.
Grant (1988) learned that little personality or behavioral distinctions existed between male
and female managers. Women tended to emulate the organizational model of
management. Grant contends that many women, therefore, learned that being successful
meant suppressing and eliminating attitudes and behaviors that would be typically female
(1988, p. 57).
Grant argues that there are negative consequences for women and organizations if the
pattern continues (1988). The very characteristics that are under-valued are the ones
necessary to make organizations most responsive to human needs. She outlines six
imponant areas that demonstrate how women's qualities will redefine organizational
success. These include: communication and cooperation, affiliation and attachment,
power, physicality, emotionality and lack of self-confidence, and intimacy and nurturance.
Considering the theme of gender differences, two of the areas are informative for
discussion at this stage: AffiHation and attaciiment, emotionality and vulnerability. These
are characteristics often ascribed to females. Not only have they traditionally been
considered "feminine" characteristics (Vogel and other, 1972), they have also been imked
to weak or ineffective leaders. On the other hand, no research, apparently, has ever asked
how workers feel about having a female boss with these qualities (Harriman, p. 189, 1985).
The assumption is that the leader is male or at least conforms to some "mascuhne" model.
In other research, Donnell and Hall (1979, 1980) found that while there were few
significant differences between male and female managers, men scored higher on
interpersonal competence between managers and their peers. Why? Carli (1989) learned
that assertive women in communication, although considered more competent than
non-assertive women by both male and female respondents, were not responded to
favorably by men. Men not only liked and trusted the non-assertive, self-deprecating
women they were more likely to be influenced or persuaded to change their mind by the
women they considered to be less competent. In other words, the men liked and were
persuaded by the women who acted less clear, competent, and assertive in communication.
The women, on the other hand, liked and were persuaded by both the men and the women
who demonstrated clear, competent, and assertive communication.
Implications for relationships and responses at work emerge. Does a woman worker
learn that success with male co-workers and male superiors relies on an ability to have
dichotomous communication styles? Does she learn to use cautious, qualifying,
self-deprecating language with men? In contrast, what happens in the presence of
women? What about mixed-group mteractions at work? Perhaps some women have
learned to acquire multiple-communication personalities at work. With the men she learns
to say,". ..I am no expert on this but..." In contrast she responds to women by saying,
"Past experience and research clearly tell me..."
Multifocal scholarship (see stage:5) could include research that concerns the relational
aspects of the questions Carli (1989) generates. But bifocal scholarship includes the
themes of frustration and anger that are a result of feeling forced to play painful
communication games. Some women said no. They were unwilling to feel molded or to
act less capable in order to fit some male model of behavior. These women are not likely
to be promoted and if already in leadership positions, they are forced out.
Self-help books, strategy seminars, and other forms of education thus emerged,
designed sometimes patronizingly, to free women from the constraints of a male world.
Television took on many of these topics. Gloria Steinam, an influential leader in the
feminist movement, encourages self-esteem and argued that the polarization of
"masculine" and "feminine" is a mutilation of whole selves, the two halves aren't halves at
all. Male dominance means that admired qualities that are called "masculine" are more
plentiful, while "feminine" ones are not only fewer but less valued (Steinam, 1992, p. 257).
Other approaches focus on women taking the leadership role in understanding a
woman's experience, and then educating men about differences that can be troublesome
and even amusing. One example, Tannen's (1990) book, You Just Don't Understand,
considers men and women in conversation. Her discussion about the ways men talk and
interrupt includes dispelling the notion that men always talk and women always listen
(Tannen, 1990, p. 144). Her writing is one of many illustrations of researchers refusing to
reinforce stereotypes, moving away from stage 3: bifocal scholarship and closer to stage 5:
multifocal scholarship. What remains is a stage of scholarship that fits neatly in the
middle-stage 4:feminist scholarship.
Stage 4: Feminist Scholarship
In this stage women are studied on their own terms. The central question of this stage
is: What is the nature of women's experience as it is expressed by women? Not only is
the diversity of women recognized at this point (Twombly, 1991, p. 13), the feminist fight
and scholarship has by now changed society forever. Steinam is informative here when
she cites physicist Capra who wrote that feminism will have a profound effect on further
evolution because patriarchy is the one system whose doctrines are so universally accepted
that they seemed to be the law of nature (1992, p. 188).
Bifocal scholarship began the journey and feminist scholarship became the turning
point as researchers struggled to identify variables and isolate significant situations in a
woman's experience. As a consequence, discussion was more often about how girls were
different from boys and how women acted differently from men. There is currently
criticism about studies that separates men and women by underlining differences.
Although these studies may reinforce difficult to avoid sex-role stereotypes, each offers a
view of issues important in the discussion of gender and leadership. For example, Horner
(1969) who discussed women's fear of success, and Pollack and Gilligan (1982) who
suggested a woman's motive to avoid success (1982, p. 164) are famous and fascinating
first attempts of research considering a woman's experience. More important, these
studies are illustrations of theory-building about women.
Perhaps the most familiar theory on the separation of experiences of men and women is
provided by Carol Gilligan (1982). Twombly (1991) explains that Gilligan's work is
important because it draws our attention to the notion that men and women as a group
may experience different stages of development. Gilligan uses the term "connection" as a
goal motivating women not men. Gilligan's early work, however, extended beyond
theorizing about differences. She systematically demonstrated how women's thinking,
experiencing, and behaving in relationships reveals the limitations of measuring women's
development against a male standard (Gilligan, 1982, p. 170). From this, Gilligan (1982)
provided us with a different truth about visions of mature adulthood.
In this light, the work of Gilligan (1982) and Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule
(1986) suggest that understanding the differences between men and women in their
consideration of fairness and care and in their modes of self-definition (separate vs.
connected) is critical to any discussion of women and men's conceptions of leadership.
Gilligan's ten years of systematic research about the differences in female response to
moral dilemmas provides an opportunity to apply its implications to the workplace. When
she traced the development of morality around issues of responsibility and care by
listening to girls and women resolve moral dilemmas in their lives, she was asking the
world to remove the gender restrictions on the theory of moral development. The
dilemma doesn't end in early development. Perhaps the fewer women leaders at work can
be more clearly defined through developmental theory.
dominance and sex-role on leadership (Nyquist and Spence, 1986), and gender roles in
attraction and predicting emerging leaders (Goktepe and Schneier, 1989). The conflicting
results, however, echo the past.
Research examining the differences between men and women across broad areas of
cognition revealed no significant sex differences (Deaux, 1988). With the exception of
interaction of subject and task (Nyquist and others, 1986) and interaction of style and
influence (Carli, 1989) results indicated no gender difference in leader-type behavior.
Studies that attempted to examine differences in masculinity, femininity, and androgyny
(see stage 3: bifocal scholarship using Bem, 1974) reported no gender differences in
management but missed the mark methodologically. That research used broad social
categories of masculinity, femininity, and the ambiguous category of androgyny only
considered stereotyped differences in how people think they differ by sex. It did not
consider gender differences in how people respond to leadership and did not take into
consideration that men's and women's experiences are relational.
Stage 5: Multifocal Scholarship
For the most part, this stage is unrealized. Researchers are searching to redefine the
disciplines and methodologies of women's scholarship. The search surfaces gender as a
response defined by a set of complex, multi-variables. Theoretically, the definition of
multifocal scholarship centers around the notion that men's and women's experiences are
relational and as a result, have a dramatic affect on interactions everywhere from the
family to work.
Two researchers, Twombly and Connell, are informative about the relational
component in their research. Twombly cites Anderson (1988) as having made the
hypothesis that men's and women's experiences are relational (1991, p. 13). Connell's
theory of gender (1987) is more extensive and based on three connecting assumptions:
1) gender and sex are patterned, 2) social structure, personal life and collective social
arrangements are linked fundamentally, and 3) gender is produced by three interdependent
social structures—labor, power, and sexual cathexis. These last three structures are the
core of his thesis. Essentially, Connell asserts that the perception of masculine and
feminine vary as the result of the combined interactions among the social structures of
labor, power, and sexual cathexis.
In order to consider gender experiences at work as relational, it is necessary to
hypothesize the relationship among the multi-variable themes: responses to the boss and
work task; responses to the boss who demonstrates closeness and affiliation; responses to
power, dominance, and the exercise of authority; and responses to underlying sexual
tensions and dilemmas when the boss is female. Such a multifocal approach is both a
relatively new and intellectually demanding task.
Environmental factors in the form of economic, political, and media pressures present
one grand scale deterrent. Society has shifted from an interest in men's and women's
scholarship to the view that it is not fashionable to focus on gender in a relational context.
Such a focus drives men and women further apart by threatening the already fragile family
and presents political and power problems and work. More troublesome, society learns.
men and women considered in any relational scholarship context present change and loss
for the male.
Faludi (p. 303, 1991) supports Farrell's view ihat a multifocal view will be overpower a
bi-focai one. In a 1971 New York Times essay Farrell wrote that the image of masculinity
is so all-pervasive that is easier to use surgery to change a man's sex than it is to undo
social and cultural conditioning. By 1985 Farrell and others decided it was time to start
standing up for men by teaching that independent career women had become the
oppressors and discriminated against the average man (Faludi, p. 303, 1991).
Multifocal scholarship is new and unrealized partially due to slowly evolving social
change. To a greater extent, it is often impossible to conduct research in the most difficult
of non-accepting environments. Perhaps, the paradox is contained in this fact. More
understanding will only occur from consideration of men and women as "relational" but a
separatist and differences focus is the safe way men and women relate. An integrated
workplace illustrates the dangers the "relational" component presents. Trend stories in the
'80s read, "Women invade man's world (Faludi, 1991, p. 365)."
In fact, in the few cases where working women made inroads, job-integration specialist
Reskin opines (Faludi, 1991, p. 366), they were only admitted by default. In the
occupations where women had made the most progress by entering "male" jobs, women
succeeded only because the pay and status of these jobs had fallen dramatically and men
were bailing out. In the high-paying white collar occupations the progress of women's
successes slowed or stopped altogether by the end of the last decade (Faludi, 1991, p.
Two preliminary investigations (Karanian, 1991; Karanian, 1992) will be used in the
exploration of gender response to leadership and differential expectations that shape the
language used in describing those in positions of leadership. Those studies were entitled:
1) Gender Responses To Leadership, and, 2) Gender Conceptions of Authority Men Tell
Stories About Woman as Teacher.
1 .Gender Responses To Leadership
In a preliminary investigation approval and disapproval responses to the boss appeared
to relate to specific leadership behaviors (Karanian, 1991). When male and female
engineers representative of two northeastern based high technology companies responded
to scenarios depicting effective and ineffective leadership a couple of interesting results
occurred (Karanian, 1991).
First, dichotomy between approval and disapproval to leadership occurred. Approval
responses were connected to the "task" of leadership. The subjects favorably described a
hands-on approach, creation of an atmosphere of innovation, and a problem-solving
approach. Disapproval seemed to concern more about what the leader was "like" and how
they interacted with others. In the case of disapproval, the leader's approach was
described in terms of how they interacted with others— insecure, not self-confident enough
10 delegate, gives up easily, too passive, and doesn't stand behind people.
Second, there was a difference in the way male and females responded when the sex of
the leader was varied. Male were the only ones using the word "attack" in approval of the
male leader. "He successfully attacked. ..great problem solving," and "...attacked the
issue," are examples of responses. Females never used the word "attack" in approval or
disapproval of the man or the woman in the leadership position. Further, only females
used words like "sincere," "genuine," or "responsive" to describe approval (or the lack of)
towards the leader regardless of sex.
Despite the methodological limitations of this study due to the small sample size, the
uneven distribution of the gender of the participants, and the self-report instrument model,
it suggests possibilities for further research. Different language shaped the responses to
leadership. Men and women used different words to describe what they liked and disliked
about the boss. And, phrases used to describe the male leader m the scenario were
different from language used to describe the female. There were no gender differences
described in the "task" of leadership. The differences occurred in the context of wtiat the
leader vvas perceived to be "like." Perhaps the men expected and desired a male leader
who could "attack" while the women wished for any leader who could care and connect.
This finding could lead to a more relational component to the study of gender and
The following considers theory that is informative in the discussion of gender
differences in expectation. Since differences in expectation shape responses to leadership,
discussion will also include gender issues in language that reflects differences in both
relating and in self-definition.
Because gender differences in interaction include issues of social context and ways of
disclosure, developmental theory is pertinent. Maccoby (p. 514, 1990) reminds us that
social behavior is never a function of the individual alone and asks us to consider the early
developmental link to later gender relationships in the workplace. In her earlier work (see
stage 3: bifocal scholarship) she learned that there existed pronounced attraction to same
sex peers in childhood. In a more recent article (Maccoby, 1990) she discussed how her
previous research provided her with a basis for a new working hypotheses. Maccoby
states that boys have issues of competition and dominance. As a result, girls respond in a
couple of ways that have adult implications. First, this aspect of dominance is aversive to
most girls. Second, girls find it difficult to influence boys. Most interesting of all is
Maccoby's latest working theory. She believes that most girls find it aversive to try to
interact with someone who is unresponsive and begin to avoid such panners (Maccoby,
Maccoby's recent anicle serves to provide an interpretation for the finding that men see
"attack" behavior as favorable only in male leaders (Karanian, 1991) and generates useful
questions about the relational aspect of gender and leadership. That more competitive and
dominant boys grow up to be men at work who expect similar behaviors from other men is
not surprising. If however, men see the "attack" behavior as a necessary component of
leadership in men, what happens when a woman exhibits the same behavior? Is it possible
that male and female leaders are not only expected to behave differently in terms of
competition and dominance, but that people at work respond differently despite
similarities? "Attack" therefore could be a positive and necessary behavior in response
from man to man. In contrast, could "attack" be an invisible, ignored or threatening
behavior in response from man to woman? If Maccoby is correct that most little girls
grow up to be women who avoid the men who are unresponsive to them, how do most
women respond when their leadership acts are ignored or avoided? Finally, what happens
when women interact with other women leaders?
Rosener (1990) and Helgesen (1989) are frequently quoted today because they are
asking similar gender questions about leadership. While some male management
professors(Sonnenbend, 1990) brush the gender issue aside, fearful that discussion
continues to reinforce stereotypes, others are convinced that changes in the workplace,
and successes in organizations are direct results of newly defined leadership.
Today women are talking about not only the men but also the women undermining
their leadership. Charlotte Kasl's 1989 book. Women, Sex, and Addiction: A Search for
Love and Power, articulates the emotional entrapments that women in American society
find themselves. Kasl (1989) tells us about the intense and often unhealthy results of
competition among women. Women in high positions painfully discuss the sabotaging of
honest effort, the unwiUingness to associate, and refusal to offer praise to other women
(Kasl, 1989). Perhaps women still become immobilized by insecurities about being worthy
(see stage 2: woman worthies) of the leader role.
Before continuing the discussion of developmental influences on gender relations and
leadership, it is useful to briefly consider intrapsychic interpretations of "feeling insecure"
or "not worthy" in work groups. Smith and Berg's (p. 40-41, 1987) discussion of the
fight-flight emotional state of the group illustrates. This group is united against
ambiguous enemies. Conflict emerges around aggressive control and mistrust, suspicion,
and fear of annihilation prevail. Perhaps, some female participants behave as a sub group
in the larger work group when they talk about feeling unimportant or invisible. While no
one wants to feel invisible at work, women tend to report this feeling more often than
men. Whether or not this is more of an issue for the women than the men may not be as
significant as the fact that the women are the ones discussing insecurity or invisibility
(Karanian, 1991). Smith and Berg suggest that transformations in some work groups may
occur when the issue grows between the women, who feel vulnerable, and the men who
feel secure, leading to a position that the women feel vulnerable because they are vvomen,
and the men feel secure because they are men (p. 162-163. 1987).
The works of Gilligan (1982) and Belenky and others (1986) are useful in this
discussion of leadership for understanding the differences between males and females in
their consideration of fairness and care and in their modes of self-definition (separate vs.
connected). Women and men resolve the same conflicts in different ways. Women's ways
of caring and knowing is built on the concept of connection. In other words, women see
the world in terms of their dependence on building and maintaining relationships. Men, m
contrast, see the world in terms of separation. They see the world in terms of their
dominance of and independence from relationships.
Not only do these different voices give women the opportunity for a new leadership
vision, they facilitate a new definition of leadership for both sexes. In a May, 1991 New
York Times feature, women's evolving role in the work force was illustrated by Grace
Pastiak's inclusive management style. Denying that her style is gender specific, Pastiak
simply states that people do better when they are happy. Developmental theory by Gilligan
and others suggest that women are more capable and likely to include others. When the
"connected" approach emerges at work, whether in leadership or in response to
leadership, inclusive problem-solving and creative team work occur.
GiUigan (1982) and Belenky and others (1986) offer an explanation for why other
women, like the female engineers (Karanian, 1991), prefer a work world of connection.
When a successful male or female leader was described by the women, words like
"sincere" and "genuine" and "responsive" were used. In describing the same leaders, men
never shaped their responses with language that was even remotely connected. In
post-evaluation interviews, these men said male leaders that acted "sincere" and "genuine"
and "responsive" were wimpy and useless. Apparently the men saw connecting behaviors
as a loss of manhood and therefore not an effective trait for any leader-male or female
2. Gender Conceptions of Authority: Men Tel! Stories About Women as Teacher
Research using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to explore gender differences
remains questionable m the areas of generalizability, validity, and reliability. Nonetheless,
it is widely used. Findings about projective imagination suggest that women and men
perceive and construct the relationship between self and others in different ways. One
study explored the link between conception of gender and construction of authority in an
adult classroom situation(Karanian, 1992).
Forty-two college students generated stories to a set of two pictures with either a male
or a female as an authority stimulus character. Stories were coded for three imagery
areas: context, success or failure, and the presence or absence of closeness or hostility.
The results only partially confirmed previous research findings of a greater incidence of
violence in men's fantasy. Whereas Horner (1968: 1972) found that women's fear of
success was reflected in violent descriptions of academic competition, this study suggested
that there is a greater incidence of hostile imagery in men's stories about a woman in an
academic or work authority position. Unlike Pollack and Gilligan's (1982) findings that
images of violence frequently appeared in stories written by men in responses to situations
in affiliation, this study suggested that connection or hostility were images evident in male
responses to a women in authority (at work and/or in achievement). In contrast, when
men wrote stories about men in authority the discussion was about success or failure in the
teaching or leading process, presentmg a problem, fixing a problem, with no incidence of
hostility (Karanian, 1992).
The central hypothesis that men's stories about women in authority would be different
from their stories about men in authority was confirmed. A significant half of the men s
stories about the woman included either images of hostility or images of hostility and
connection. The remaining half of the men's responses told stories about success attempts.
In contrast, the overwhelming majority of men's stories about the man discussed attempts
at success. While there was little or no incidence of responses other than the predictable
achievement-oriented images of "success or failure on the job" in the stories about the
man, the stories about the woman could be interpreted as providing evidence for other
images. In other words, while men used images reflective of the "task" of leadership in the
stories about the male authority, their stories about the female authority reflected both
what she was "like" and a relational component.
The findings might suggest that men see their conception of gender and their
conception of authority with clarity when the authority is male. Although authority and
leadership are different concepts, it appeared that men imagine that the male in the
authority position is either successful or unsuccessful in the "task" of leading. This
confirmed earlier findings concerning gender responses to leadership (Karanian, 1991).
Story themes were almost always about doing a good job, problem-solving,
accomplishments, direction, and attempted success.
Something very different happens when the authority is female. Apparently, men do
not see their conceptions of a woman in authority with the same clarity. Story themes
were infrequently about the tasks of leadership or successful or unsuccessful achievement.
Only a few stories included images about doing a good job or grasping an idea. Men s
responses to the woman in an identical authority position to the man were about closeness,
connection, and care. Sometimes this closeness was perceived as dangerous or
threatening and sometimes it was comforting. As a result the stories about the woman
included polar themes—harm or hostility on one end and closeness or connection on the
other. Thus, men see men in the context of authority in task terms that include the
opportunity for achievement. Even when success is not the achievement outcome, danger
is not seen. On the other hand, men see woman in authority with a confusing mixture of
affiliation and achievement images. Whether or not the story themes featured success, at
the very least they are confusing. Enough of the time women in authority seemed to be
perceived as threatening or dangerous.
To decipher the meaning of this preliminary data, psychological research in the areas of
development and motivation are informative. Three researchers link gender development
to adult behavior (Maccoby, 1990; Carli, 1989; and Gilligan, 1982). Maccoby (1990)
discusses early childhood play and its influence on segregation of the sexes at work. Her
focus considered the fact that most little girls avoided playing with boys because they
weren't interested in being aggressive and they didn't like being ignored. Boys remember
being separate and elite in childhood play, and experience a similar status at work. Not
only does a woman in authority change the status that they expected men to enjoy, it also
forces the change from the separate to connected.
In explaining the pattern of gender differences in expectation, Carli ( 1989) argues that
segregation by sex is common among children and adults in our culture, and that norms
are often well established for sex-segregated sports, occupations, and games. Citing Hall,
Carli (p. 566, 1989) states that the types of activities that men and women traditionally
engage in may have shaped norms that developed for each gender. Carli elegantly
intenwines developmental and group theory when she asks us to think about subjects'
expectations about how men and women "ought" to behave reflected in what they "do" in
same-sex and mixed-sex groups. We may be less clear about the appropriate norms for
mixed-sex groups and modify our behavior to fit the type of interaction we "expect" from
the opposite sex (p. 566, 1989).
In the context of gender responses to leadership (see above, Karanian, 1991), group
members expecting an assertive, dominant, hands-on approach from men in leadership
may see more effective leadership and therefore, describe the leader favorably. In another
example, group members expecting a warm, responsive interaction from women in
leadership positions may see warmth in women leaders and therefore, describe the leader
accordingly. But only when group members see warmth as an appropriate response or
when they need or want this response will ihey describe the leader favorably (Karanian,
Informative in the discussion of the men's conceptions of the woman authority
(Karanian, 1992) Carli's recent research (1989) confirmed that men were more frequently
persuaded by non-forceful communication styles in the woman authority but also as the
negotiator of interpersonal connection. Gilligan (1982) used the term connection as a goal
motivating women. The outcome of this goal if a woman is in a leadership position is
troublesome for men. It triggers confusing feelings and motives.
Results of the gender conceptions of authority analysis (Karanian, 1992) suggest that
Maccoby's (1991) research may be about girls being the connecting force and boys
growing up to be men who aggressively fight and avoid the closeness. Further study
might consider the central issue of female as a leader, and also female responses in the
position of authority and negotiator.
In summary, this chapter served three major purposes. First, Feminist phase theory
was used to provide a mechanism for considering gender response to leadership. Second,
while the first four stages took us through many seasons, stage 5: multifocal scholarship,
presents a new and unrealized beginning.
Background And Purpose Of The Study
This research examines gender effects on the relationship between boss and
subordinate by considering the concept of connection and its possible role in the
construction of managerial leadership. While a preliminary study (Karanian with Tarule,
Men Tell Stories About Woman as Teacher, 1992) did not figure mto the first phase of
data collection, it did provide the foundation for data collection and analysis. Under
investigation were: the differences with gender in responses to male and female character
stimuli in authority-type situations, and the relational images that explained the quality of
how the respondents constructed leader behavior.
Findings from the preliminary examination suggested that women and men perceive
and construct the relationship between self and others in different ways. The analysis
explored the link between construction of gender and authority in an adult college
classroom situation (Karanian, 1992). Forty-two college students generated stories to a
set of two pictures with either a male or a female as an authority stimulus character.
Stories were coded for three image areas: context, success or failure, and the presence or
absence of connection, or hostihty. Results indicated that connection or hostility were
images evident in male responses to a women in authority(at work and/or in achievement).
In contrast, when men wrote stories about men in authority the discussion was about
success or failure in the teaching or leading process, presenting a problem, fixing a
problem, with no incidence of hostility. Discussion of that investigation's findings might
suggest that men see their conception of authority with clarity when the authority is male.
Although authority and leadership are different concepts, it appeared that men imagine
that the male in the authority position is either successful or unsuccessful in the "task" of
leading. This confirmed earlier research examining gender responses to leadership
(Karanian, 1991). Second, men's responses to the woman in an identical authority
position were about closeness, connection, and care. Sometimes this closeness was
perceived as dangerous and sometimes it was comforting. Since a significant cluster of
stories written by the males about the female in authority included hostile images or
connection images, the central hypothesis that men's stories about women in authority
would be different than their stories about men in authority was confirmed. Discussion of
the results concluded that while men told traditional leadership stories about the male
authority, their stories about the female reflected both what she was "like" and a relational
component about her authority.
It was through that preliminary investigation and later pilot studies that the link
between gender and constructing leadership became clear. The following discussion
shows the conceptual basis and logic for the data collection coding system in the current
study. Two approaches were used to study and analyze data in order to assure that the
research design remained faithful to my conceptual goal. To achieve this goal, I utilize
part of an established coding system to elaborate and create my own coding system.
Then, I analyze extensive story images and themes. Second, a validated instrument in the
form of the L-BLA questionnaire, provides an alternative research measure perspective.
Therefore, this study uses two forms of data: 1) story images, and 2) L-BLA
questionnaire. Finally, discussion considers how the trends and patterns of the results can
create explanations for the different ways people construct leader behavior.
The gender of the individual in the authority position influences the subordinate's
construction of the leader's qualities. The differences in how men and women construct
leader behavior is defined by the imagined presence or absence of connection.
Subjects react quite differently to pictures of someone in an authority position, depending
on the gender of that person. All subjects are more likely to rate a female boss high on
"connection" than they are a male boss.
All subjects are more likely to tell "separate" stories about the male boss than they are a
Male subjects are more likely than female subjects to dislike, disapprove, and respond with
hostility toward the woman boss.
This chapter describes methodology and instruments used in the research. It discusses
pre-test, two instruments: the L-BLA and the picture test, procedure, and coding
categories for the picture test.
Conduct of Pre-Test
The methodology used in this study was based on the results of the pre-test. The goals
of the pre-test were to assure that the methodology was workable, to establish time
requirements, and to assure that the mstruments captured elements of connection in the
way that was conceptualized. The pre-test data also provided training materials for
individuals vvho coded stories.
The pre-test was conducted in an academic milieu where the subjects were similar in
background and age to the subjects used in the present study. One finding that emerged
from this pre-test concerned who should serve as experimenter. In one pre-test situation
the experiment was conducted by the author and her students served as subjects. One of
the findings based on the author as experimenter with student subjects, pertained to the
subjects' responses. This condition seemed to place certain demands on the subjects that
appeared to bias the results. As a result, it was determined to be important that the test be
administered by a more neutral person.
Because of the potential demands that subjects may perceive an experimenter as
imposing It was determined that the test should be administered by a "neutral"
experimenter. Further, if it was necessary to have more than one experimenter it was
determined that these individuals should be similar to each other in characteristics of age
Fifty-two respondents were drawn from 4 workplaces located wittim a 50 mile range
of Boston, Massachusets. Subjects from all four workplaces were white-collar,
professionals. Two of the four workplaces were high-technology companies where many
of the employees are engineers. Of these two one company was traditional and worked on
defense contracts, while the other was a successful start-up company in the area of media
technology. Another was a major construction company where most of the employees are
engineers or contractors. Finally, the fourth was a large, non-traditional and private
organization with professional employees who had backgrounds in business or
engineering. All subjects had at least one year of professional work experience. The
sample includes 25 female subjects and 27 male subjects. Subjects ranged in age from 24
to 58 years old.
Development of Instruments
Due to the innovative nature of this research, and in the interest of exploring the
conception of connection in the construction of leadership, methods cannot rely on
quantitative tests. Methodology must capture thoughts and images not previously
measured or expressed through standardized procedures.
In a recent American Psychologist, Ekman (1993, p. 395) outlined the following
requirements necessary for a psychological test: 1) standardized materials and procedures.
2) optimal motivation, 3) immediate recording, 4) objective scormg and high inter-judge
reliability, 5) appropriate norms, and 6) established validity. The research design for this
studv fulfills these requirements by utihzing the TAT-type diagnostic technique, the
conceptuahzation of coding for connection, and separateness, intensive and consistent
training for the coding, immediate recording, high reliability among coders, and the
established validity of the L-BLA style inventory.
A. Lipman-Blumen-Leavitt (L-BLA) Instrument Background
The Lipman-Blumen-Leavitt Achieving Styles Inventory (1983) was chosen for use in
this research as a means to investigate connection in a subject's construction of a boss.
The pioneer study that influenced the creation of the L-BLA was conducted on gender
stereotypes (Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson, and Rosenkxantz, 1972) That was
the beginning of a series of major contributions concerning gender and behavior. What
makes the L-BLA so appropriate is its relational component in analyzing leadership
Careful analysis of the relational managerial model developed by Counts (1987)
supports the use of the L-BLA Achieving Style Inventory in this research. Achieving
styles are the preferred strategies or means individuals employ to accomplish tasks, to
achieve, to implement their plans, and to get things done (Lipman-Blumen et al, 1983).
Counts (1987) cites Lipman-Blumen et al (1983) when she underlines the need in the
leadership literature for a measure that concerns "people orientation" and the use of
relationships as the medium for achieving.
Although three domains are identified, the relational domain is of specific interest in
this dissertation because it comes closest to a validated measure of the considerations of
care and response categories conceptualized later m this chapter (Lyons, 1982; Gilligan,
The L-BLA is a Likert-style instrument that mcludes 45 items and requires seven to ten
minutes to complete. Three major domains are identified: direct, instrumental, and
relational. Three types of styles are contained in each of the three domains. Means are
calculated for nine achieving subject styles. Similar to Counts' (1987) research the author
relies on the relational domain in the L-BLA analysis in this research.
The relational domain measures achievers who contribute actively or passively to
relationships as part of their own accomplishments. In the relational domain lies the
relationships between self and other, or the interdependence between managers and those
with whom they work (Counts, 1987, p. 88). Care and response i.e., connection, are the
considerations. Represented are three categories of relational thought:
1) collaborative-relational- The collaborative style is illustrated by the team player who
thrives on sharing and receiving credit and responsibilities for group endeavors;
2) contributory-relational- The contributory achiever contributes actively by helping,
supporting, and encouraging the success of another while essentially taking a secondary
role or they meet their achievement needs by contributing to the success of another; and
3) vicarious-relational- The vicarious achiever identifies with others and passively or
indirectly perceives others' accomplishments as their own. Therefore the relational domain
of the L-BLA offers a conceptually appropriate measure for connection.
The L-BLA Styles Inventory (Lipman-Blumen, Form 10, 1983) is comprised of 45
Likert-scale items. The instrument requires approximately ten minutes to complete. Most
items are descriptive statements of behavior used in accomplishing or implementing goals.
Subjects are asked to respond along a seven point scale from "never"(l) to "always"(7) as
if they were speaking as the boss in the picture, "Imagine that you are speaking for the
boss in the picture" (directions in Procedure section). Nine sub scales, each comprised of
five Items are each divided with three subscales keyed to each of the three previously
described achieving styles(direct, instrumental, and relational). This research utilized on
the relational domain scores.
The instrument is scored by summing the subject's responses over the five items of
each sub-category (collaborative-relational, contributory-relational, vicarious-relational)
and dividing by the number of items answered. Three relational domain scores are used in
this research: L-BLA 7=collaborative-relationa]; L-BLA 8=contributory-relational; and
L-BLA 9=vicarious-relational. The average of the three relational sub-category scores is
the relational domain score, or the overall mean=L-BLA R.
B. Picture Test and TAT
The methodology in this study for the picture tests is based on the Thematic
Apperception Test (TAT). While the TAT was originally designed to clinically categorize
unconscious images (Murray, 1943), Atkinson (1958) successfully utilized it to measure
achievement motives. The TAT has been demonstrated as not only a fruitful method for
captunng achievement motivation, affiliation motivation, and power motivation, it has
more recently been acclaimed for testing compatibility and productivity of workers to the
workplace (McClelland, 1975).
The TAT, a diagnostic and projective test, was designed by Murray in 1943
(Megarbee, 1966). The original instrument mcluded 19 pictures and a single blank sheet.
Despite evidence that the TAT was questionable as a reliable measure, researchers agree
that it is capable of capturing images not likely to be expressed with other
techniques(Sharkey and Ritzier, 1985; Worchel, Aaron, and Yates, 1990). Others
recommend consistency and clear labeling for more generalizable results (Keiser and
Previous investigation (Karanian, 1991) confirms that asking subjects to tell stories
about pictures creates a successful basis for gender analysis. TAT pictures are
traditionally referred to as cards. Previous findings indicate gender differences in response
to male and female cards (Worchel, Aaron, Yates, 1990, p. 601) and gender differences
not attributable to the type of TAT card administered. While these findings have no
specific relationship to the present study's examination of connection and managerial
leadership, results are informative. In the first, male and female cards elicited different
responses according to the factor of General Concern (based on the Fine in [Schneidman,
1951] scoring system). Subjects responded more frequently to the General Concern
categories of conflict, effort, escape, verbal hostility, sexuality, ambivalence, fear,
acceptance, and separation when the female TAT cards were administered. In the second,
not attributable to the type of card, women responded more often to items of the
Interpersonal Relations factor scale than did men. Included here are categories of
loneliness and acceptance.
Problems must be addressed. While the TAT avoids the problems of data elicited from
direct mterview questions where results maybe subject to distortions due to social
desirability and the participant's perceived expectations by the researcher (Friedman et Al,
1992), problems of interpretation arise. Since the TAT requires subjects to project their
personality, mood, and perceptions onto the picture stimulus when they tell a story, it is
questionable what the measure reflects. Controversy exists concerning whether the
measure reflects how individuals perceive themselves, how they perceive others, how they
actually behave, cultural norms, gender stereotypes, or some combination of all these
possibilities (Friedman, 1992). Since the author is investigating individual differences in
perceptions about authority and leadership, the individual's portrayal of the picture
stimulus is very useful. Interpreting the relationship among the factors of individual vs.
other perception, cultural norms and stereotypes is a central part the current study.
The author modified the traditional TAT approach in both picture choice and coding
scheme. Coding techniques for the use of the picture test replicates validated techniques
used by Pollak (1985) and Lyons (1991). For detailed definitions and conceptualization
for the coding schemes, and sample coding for objective scoring see p. 50 - p. 56 (and
Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3).
♦ Picture 1 (FA PIC) This picture depicts a mature and professionally dressed woman
alone. She is either leaning or standing, and has a smile on her face.
♦ Picture 2 (FG PIC) This is picture of a mature woman standing at an easel and
leading a group of men and women. She has a pointer in her hand to indicate items
or words written on the paper.
♦ Picture 3 (MA PIC) This picture depicts a mature and professionally dressed man
alone. He appears to be sitting, and has a smile on his face.
♦ Picture 4 (MG PIC) This is a picture of a mature man standing at an easel and
leading a group of men and women. He has a pointer in his hand to indicate words
or items written on the paper. This picture(Picture 4) and Picture 2 are identical.
Only the gender of the individual standing at the easel changes.
The pictures were chosen to ponray ordinary and typical seasoned adults as they
would appear in a business environment. Black and white pictures were deliberately used
to eliminate color cues. One of the purposes of the pre-test was to assure that nothing in
the pictures interfered with an authority context. One of the findings from the pre-test
was that the subjects did not perceive the male (MG PIC), depicted as the major character
stimulus, as the authority. Story images revealed that he appeared younger. For example,
he was viewed as a trainer being evaluated by his boss who was sitting in the back of the
room. In another case, story themes indicated that he was a subordinate making a
presentation to a group that included his boss. As a result, the same major character
stimulus was graphically altered, with the aid of computer design, to ponray a more
Procedure for Data Collection
The L-BLA and the pictures were administered using the Atkinson (McClelland, 1975)
group format, by four male test administrators (TA's), all male professional employee
representatives from the workplaces from which the subjects were drawn. These TA's
were intensively trained by the author. They had served as subjects in a class experience
where a TAT-like test was used for educational purposes. Since they all served as
subjects they were sensitive to the experimental procedure.
The four TAs volunteered to administer the tests, All were given instructions to be
neutral. They met individually with the researcher twice. The first meeting was designed
for step-by-step procedure instructions, and a role-play to ensure consistency. For
example, we considered what would happen if one of the subjects(s's) in their group
asked. Who was the boss in the picture?" What would he say? For every example of this
and similar questions the TA's were instructed to reread the directions. They were
discouraged from saying anything other than reiterating the explicit, written directions.
Each of the four received a small honorarium.
The tests were administered in small groups in the subject's workplace by the TA's.
When the subjects assembled in the room the TA explained the research procedure.
All subjects received identical directions and the L-BLA survey, but individual packets
varied to include one of the four pictures. Each subject received one of the four stimulus
pictures. Thus there were four different pictures: 1) a female depicted alone (FA), 2) a
female depicted standing in front of a group(FG), 3) a male depicted alone (MA), and 4)
a male depicted standing in front of the group (MG). The MG and FG are practically
identical pictures-only the gender of the individual standing changes.
In every case the directions to the subjects are prefaced by the following statement:
Thank you very much for taking time during this
meeting to assist a colleague's research about attitudes
in the workplace. This should take about 20 minutes.
Your responses are anonymous and will be placed in
this envelope and sealed. I assure you that I will not
look at the responses.
After this portion of the directions, the TA affirmed that all subjects were willing to
participate. He then handed out the packets. The packets contained four pages: the
picture page, and the three page L-BLA. The picture instrument included an itemized
place in the upper right comer for subjects to indicate gender, age, and years of
professional experience. The TA then read the following directions:
Indicate on the front of the packet whether you are male
or female, your age, and the number of years that you
have worked. You are asked to do two things. First,
imagine that you can tell a story about the boss in the
picture. Who are the people? How do they know each
other? What's happening? What will happen next? Be
as creative as you like. Flip over the picture page and
write on the other side.
"Then, after you have completed writing the story,
and only after you have written the story, imagine that
you are speaking for the boss when you fill out the
questionnaire. How would the boss describe themself as
The subjects were given as much time as they needed to respond. Individual
subjects returned the completed test packet to the TA as they finished. The
experiment took from 20 to 30 minutes to administer. No problems were reported.
The TA was instructed to reread the directions if subjects had any questions.
Conceptualizing the Coding Schemes
Three major response categories were established for the TAT-type picture instrument.
The two major foci for this study were 1) connection, and 2) separate. In addition, the
stories were coded for 3) hostility. This section describes the three coding schemes.
The view that society's images of women in authority are perceived and constructed
differently from but in relation to men is theoretically discussed (Stiver, 1991; Tannen,
1990; Miller, 1991; Boyatzis, 1974; Bailyn, 1986). Findings, however, are mfrequently
based m empirical data (Counts, 1987). Utilizing the conceptual framework of
connection, this study attempts to test the ways individuals construct their images of boss
behavior. Connection is based on the theoretical discussions cited above and the empirical
findings in Gilligan (1982) and Lyons (1982) and Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and
Tarule (1986). "Connection" is the term used as a goal motivating women not men.
Theorizing suggested that perspectives of self and morality were related to but not defined
by gender and suggested that a woman's thinking, experiencing, and behaving in
relationships could be traced to modes of self-definition (separate vs. connected).
The categorization scheme used to code for connection in the story images is drawn
from. Lyons' (1982) elaborate identification and coding scheme. Using the story data, the
content of each respondent's conception of connection is examined in terms of three
aspects of a story about a boss: a) story construction of boss, b) the images surrounding
what the boss is like, and c) the images of the boss acting as leader. Connection is defined
in part by the logic of Lyons (1982) "Consideration of Response" category and extended
to include four categories: CONSIDERS OTHERS (collapsed into this category are the
four other "considers" categories); CARING, DEVOTED AND WILLING TO GET
CLOSE AND INCLUDE SUBORDINATES; EMOTIONALLY EXPRESSIVE AND
ABLE TO REFLECT/PROCESS FEELINGS OF SUBORDINATES OR GROUP; and
PAYS ATTENTION TO PROMOTING SELF-ESTEEM IN SUBORDINATES.
In the instructions to the coders, the four categories of connection are presented in
Figure 1 with examples of actual story images of individuals. Responses of adults (m and
f respondents ranging from age 19-37) from the original study and prc-tests are included.
The table is split into two columns. One explains the category and the other presents
illustrations from preliminary test data. As Lyons (1982, p. 52) suggests, the categories
and the examples are meant to be read together, although there is not always a strict,
one-to-one correspondence between them. Connection is defined as present in a story
when two coders agree that a particular category/example appears with 75% of the sample
data. While the examples are from actual story data, the following listing changes and
mixes gender identity of story images.
CONSIDERS Maintaining or Restoring
CONSIDERS the WelfareAVell being
CONSIDERS the Primacy of the
Situation over Principles
CONSIDERS Care of the Self
2.CARING, DEVOTED, and Willing
to Get Close or Include Subordinates
3. EMOTIONALLY EXPRESIVE and
able to Reflect, Process Feelings, of
Subordinates or Group
4.PAYS ATTENTION TO
"He vvas the kind of boss who always
listened to us. He considered our
"She was concerned that they didn't
like her. So she kept trying to plan a
luncheon for everyone."
"After a 20 year run as president she
will turn over the business to her
"He was trying to work out a solution
that would be the best for the whole
group. He wanted it to be the least
upsetting for everyone."
"He's the kind of boss who feels bad
when he does things poorly... He could
have made a better career choice, now
he is stuck in this dead end job "
"She spent the time and tried to
include them in the problem-solving
session. ..The senior chemist was
developing a miraculous potion that
would cure the earth."
"She kept asking if anyone noticed that
there was tension in the room. No one
would answer. She said that she was
sure that we would be able to finish the
project if we talked about the bad
'She held extra classes because she
knew that we were doing badly. ..and
we felt awful about failing and doing
so poorly." "He's the kind of boss who
is really positive about giving feedback
to the group. ..and to me in my
Separate knowers may be characterized by a tough minded approach. When
presented with a proposition, they look for the flaws. They assume everyone, mcluding
themselves, is wrong; and they are especially suspicious of ideas that feel right (Belenky,
Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule, 1986). Separation may be characterized by indifference,
withdrawal, and diffidence (Miller, 1991, p. 125).
The conceptuaUzation of separate/objective is drawn from Lyons (1982), Gilligan
(1982), and Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule (1986) and defines individuals as
separate in relation to others. While individuals experience relationships in both terms of
reciprocity (separate) and responsiveness (connection), one way may predominate. The
categorization scheme to code for separate is drawn from Lyons (1982) elaborate
identification coding scheme and is referred to as "Consideration of Rights." The refined
categories for separate are presented in Figure 2 and include: CONSIDERS THE SELF;
CONSIDERED HOW THE DECISION WAS JUSTIFIED; CONSIDERED WHETHER
VALUES OR PRINCIPLES WERE MAINTAINED; DOES NOT PAY ATTENTION
TO FEELINGS, PROCESS OF THE GROUP, OR SELF-ESTEEM OF
1. CONSIDERS THE SELF
CONSIDERS DUTY, obligations
CONSIDERS RULES, standards,
fairness, for self or others
CONSIDERS that others nave their own
2. CONSIDERED how the decision was
3. CONSIDERED whether VALUES or
principles were maintained
4. DOES NOT PAY ATTENTION TO
FEELINGS, process of the group, or
self-esteem of subordinates
"He is the kind of boss that answers
first to higher ups, he cares more about
himself than us."
"She worried about what the
"She had no confidence in making the
decision herself She would have to go
upstairs and ask the boss. So she told
us it was out of her hands."
"He knew it wasn't really right, he was
sure his bosses were watching. He was
afraid they would think he had no
control over his subordinates. So he
lied. Just like that. ..he did it to avoid
getting into trouble with them."
"She didn't even notice us. We didn't
matter. It was like the only person in
the audience was her boss. She didn t
care about our interests or concerns."
He didn't want to introduce any
subject at the meeting that was open to
bad feeling or bitterness. He kept
everything under strict control. He
ignored any topic he had not chosen
The category of hostility was created because the preliminary findings suggested that a
cluster of male subjects responded with dislike, disapproval, and aggression or violence to
female authority images. Not only were males the only ones that wrote hostile stories in
the preliminary tests, only the males told aggressive or violent stories about the female in
Hostility is examined by considering two aspects of hostile behavior: aggression and
violence. The research and resulting empirical findings by Pollak (1983, p. 87) provides
the conceptual basis for hostility. Analysis is based on story images that show presence or
absence of either: l)aggression defined as the mtent of one individual to hurt another,
and/or 2)violence conceived as aggression taken to an extreme, the infliction or act of
harm (Maccoby and Jacldin, 1974). Any story that is seen by the coders as mcluding one
or multiple acts of aggression or violence is coded for hostility.
In Figure 3, both aggressive and violent perspectives are presented by category and
include examples from the preliminary test data.
. AGGRESSIVE THOUGHT
Intent of one to hurt another
2. VIOLENT THOUGHT
the infliction or act of harm
"I'll show her. She'll know what real pain
"I felt like stabbing that knife into her."
"She is so impressed with herself, I felt like
"No harm done yet." "She is a mean person,
she want to see us in pain."
"She is the kind of person I hate getting for a
boss. I can't stand the sight of her."
"A good fire in the night is a lovely sight."
"She stuck the knife into him and blood was
spurting all over the place."
She enjoyed the sight of him bleeding to
death, but when she woke up she had been
day dreaming about when she drove over a
dog and killed him on the way to work that
"The newspaper caption read that the boss
was found stabbed to death in apartment after
greatest speech ever made."
A. Reliability of Story Coding
Each story was coded for the three attributes (connection, separate, and hostility) by
two coders. The coders worked separately. Neither coder was aware of the hypotheses
for the research study. One was a licensed psychologist with projective and diagnostic
training (D) and the other was a library science professional with no clinical or counseling
psychology background (K).
Each coder was trained using pre-iest materials. The coders were trained to identify
the "boss" in the story as the major character stimulus. In some cases, they noted some
story themes that considered the boss to be someone other than the male or female
standing in front of the group. They also reviewed pre-test story images during extensive
sessions for the purpose of categorizing the absence or presence of the four categories.
Stories were first read for category definitions and/or quotes with the aid of three image
coding sheets. Similar to Lyons (1982) the coders were encouraged to read the coding
scheme category definitions and quotes together. Each coder coded each story for the
presence of the three attributes using the coding scheme described in the preceding
Whereas consensus between the two coders for the hostile category was reached
quickly and easily, the coders agreed that the connection and separate categories were
novel conceptual categories and had complex definitions. With discussion and referral to
THAT PERSON. ALL SUBJECTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO RATE A FEMALE BOSS
HIGH ON "CONNECTION" THAN THEY ARE A MALE BOSS (HY 1-a).
1. Picture Responses
There are two parts of the analysis for testing HY 1-a: 1) the stories generated by the
pictures, and 2) the L-BLA questionnaire. In the first part stories were coded and scored
for the presence or absence of connection. Table 3 shows the results in the picture test
portion of the data.
On first appearances, using the story data and looking at aggregate responses Hy 1-a
would seem to be rejected, since respondents saw a similar degree of connection.
Eighteen of 26 respondents wrote stories indicating connection for the F boss compared to
1 7 of 26 for the M boss. Overall, the gender of the boss did not elicit different values of
connection. But this finding reflected the combined responses of both female and male
subjects, as required by HY 1-a. The data was subsequently examined more closely,
including a comparison of female vs. male respondents.
In the consideration of aggregate responses for the four pictures (see Table 3) F
bosses are not perceived by all Ss in a way that reflects more connection than are male
bosses. There are no significant differences in the comparison of all connection responses
of the F to the M pictures. This was a finding of considerable interest. Not only is this
finding counter to an hypothesis that is compatible with extensive research, it was also
reflective of data from female and male working adults (n=52), from four separate
workplaces of different administrative cultures. F bosses were not perceived by these Ss
in a way that reflected more connection than were M bosses.
TABLE 3 CONNECTION RESPONSES BY SEX OF SUBJECT
Sex of S 6/7
Total n = 52
In the comparison of female vs. male respondents, female S's used more connection
images than male Ss in response to the boss across all four pictures (19/25 vs. 16/27). For
all four pictures (F and M bosses, depicted alone or in a group setting) the percentage of
stories of male Ss showing connection was always lower than the percentage of female
stories. Across the board females, looking at bosses, tended to tell more stories with
connection images (see table 3).
Two unpredicted findings were noted. First, while female connection ratings of the
female boss pictures (FA=86%, FG=85%)were higher than the male ratings of the female
boss Pictures (FA=50%, FG=56%), males rated a male boss depicted in group PIC
(MG=80%) higher on connection than they rated a female boss depicted alone (FA=56%).
The incidence of these ratings may be explained by the major character stimulus in the MG
PIC contrasted to the major character stimulus in the FA picture. The lower percentage of
connection stories for the FG picture (50%) than the MG picture (80%) may be due to the
female depicted alone being perceived as a non-traditional boss in the FA picture in
contrast to the traditional male character depicted in front of a group in the MG picture.
Non-traditional in this context refers to the probability that males were more likely than
females to imagine that the M boss in the picture depicted with a group was a manager
than to imagine that the F boss in the PIC depicted with a group, was a manager.
Second, both female and male ratings of all bosses included similarly high connection
ratings (from females about all PIC's) and similar moderate connection rating (from males
about all PIC's). Briefly here, similarity by sex of respondent may have reflected an
aggregate response about the importance of connection in an individual's evolving theor\-
Some gender differences by respondent did occur for the authority depicted with a
group portion of the data. Females were more likely than males to use connection images
for the woman boss depicted with a group. Eighty-five per cent of the female respondents
used connection images for that woman boss (see Table 3b). By contrast, in the male
stories about the woman boss depicted with a group (see Table 3b), connection images
were found in only 56% of the stories (see Table 3b).
Table 3a Connection Responses for Authority Alone by Sex of S
Table 3b Connection Responses for Authority with Group by Sex of S
Sex of S
While female subjects are more likely to rate a female boss high on connection than a
male boss, they are also likely to use high connection images when a boss of either gender
is depicted with a group. 3 of 4 pictures generated high connection images from female
subjects. It was highest in the PIC of the woman boss depicted with a group. Male
subjects are not only likely to rate a female boss lower overall on connection than are the
female subjects, they also use slightly more connection images for the male boss depicted
with a group compared to the boss shown alone (see Table 3b).
Overall subjects do not see a female boss higher on connection than a male boss but
HY 1-a receives weak support if one considers only the group portion of the data.
2. L-BL.A. Responses
In the second part of the analysis L-BLA scores were analyzed. Subjects were
instructed in the following manner, "...after you have completed writing the story, and
only after you have written the story, imagine that you are speaking for the boss when you
fill out the questionnaire.
"How Would The Boss Describe Themself As Leader?"
In the L-BLA Achieving Styles Inventory ( L-BLA 7, 8, and 9 respectively), each
picture had a "boss" who was scored as collaborative-relational, contributory-relational,
and vicarious-relational. Means were calculated for all three of these scales, and for a
combined relational score. The combined means (L-BLA R) are used for the
consideration of aggregate results (see Table 4).
Using the L-BLA results HYl-a is rejected since respondents' scores were moderately
similar indicating connection (relational means) at an average of 5.2 for the F boss m the
pictures compared to an average of 4.7 for the M boss in the pictures (see Table 4).
Table 4 Means for Picture Type by Sex of Respondent
Sex of Resnondent
Overall Relational Mean
Overall Relational Mean
Overall Relational Mean
Overall Relational Mean
The means were analyzed more closely in each of the four pictures for the aggregate
responses. All subjects reported the lowest means for the picture of the M boss. When
the male boss was depicted alone (4.5) the means were the lowest, by contrast to the male
boss depicted with a group (4.9). Subjects indicated sligiitly higher connection (relational)
responses for the F boss by contrast to the M boss. Means for the F boss depicted alone
or the F boss depicted with a group indicated remarkably similar connection results (5.1
and 5.3 respectively).
When the data was analyzed for differences between pictures, subjects mdicated
significantly lower connection (relational) means for the M boss depicted alone than for
the F boss depicted alone (4.5 and 5.1 respectively). This result indicated mild support for
Sex effects for the L-BLA findings also provide mild support for HYl-a. Results
indicated that the female respondents were more likely to rate the female m the group
(FG) with higher relational (connection) scores than male respondents for the male alone
(MA) or the male m the group (MG). These mean comparisons support HY 1. Not
predicted was the result that Female alone (FA) received higher connection ratings from
the male respondents than from the female respondents. Interestingly, different patterns of
response existed for female and male respondents in the comparison of the FA to the FG
or the MA to the MG. The female respondents' relational mean for the FA was lower than
the FG (4.67 vs. 5.48) and for the MA it was slightly lower than the MG (4.48 vs. 4.83).
In contrast, the male respondents saw the female boss depicted alone (FA) as higher on
connection than the female boss depicted with the group (FG). The overall relational
mean comparison was 5.57 vs. 4.98. And male respondents saw the male depicted alone
(MA) lower on connection than the male in the group (MG). The relational mean
comparison was 4.47 vs. 5.04. Both of these findings would appear to indicate a pattern
of connection responses.
In order to compare the alone versus group pictures L-BLA scores are considered first
by sex of subject, overall relational mean and the authority depicted alone (Table 5), and
then by sex of subject, overall relational mean and the authority with a group (Table 6j.
Some differences were found in the comparison of gender of PICs by sex of subject. Male
and female subjects reported the lowest connection means for the M boss depicted alone
(4.5) in the comparison across the 4 pictures. The highest connection results vvere
reported by the male respondents for the F boss depicted alone (5.6) and by female
respondents for the F boss depicted with the group (5.5). The largest difference were
found with the female respondents indicating higher connection for the F boss depicted
with the group (5.5) by contrast to the same male and female responses to the M boss
depicted alone (4.5). Based on the aggregate L-BLA data HY 1 is rejected. If one
considers each portion of the findings, HY 1 would appear to gain weak support with the
sex effects (m or f subjects), across the two types of pictures, and in the interaction of
sex, gender of authority, and picture type, to be discussed next.
Table 5 L-BLA R Means for Pictures of Authority Alone by Sex of S
Sex FA MA
F 4.67 4.48
M 5.57 4.47
Table 6 L-BLA R Means for Pictures of Authority with a Group by Sex of S
Sex FG MQ.
F 5.48 4.83
M 4.98 5.04
Analysis of Interactions
In order to look at the possible interaction between three independent variables (sex of
respondent, gender of authority in the picture, and authority depicted alone or with a
group) the L-BLA data was analyzed using a three-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).
Scores for all L-BLA means (L-BLA7, L-BLA8, L-BLA9, and L-BLAR) were computed
for the three factors: sex of respondent, gender of boss, and boss depicted alone/or with a
group. The ANOVA confirms no significance for any main effects (see tables 7, and 7a),
and there are no significant results for the interaction effects.
Table 7 ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE
LBLAR Overall Relational Mean
BY C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Source of Variation
C SEX C GPICT C A NOT
Explained 8.168 7 1.167 .587 .763
Residual 87.436 44 1.987
Total 95.604 51 1.875
Table 7a Summanes of LBLAR Overall Relational Mean
By levels of C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
For Entire Population
Total Cases = 52
Since the author noted that the L-BLA scores for one of the four male TA's
administering the tests were systematically higher than the other experimenters, the
L-BLA data was analyzed a second time excluding his group from the data pool After
the fact, in thinking about what might explain the difference in the L-BLA scores, the
author observed that this particular experimenter's tone and manner when interacting with
groups was softer than the others. The author checked to see if this observation interfered
with the ANOVA results. It did not. Clear-cut signficant F scores for the remainder of
the sample (n=45) still were not found (see appendix, ANOVA 2). There were no
mteraction effects between gender of boss and sex of respondent in either set of pictures
(depicted alone or in the group).
The L-BLA was originally chosen as the criterion measure for validation of the
connection measure because the research which contributed to the creation of the
inventory came from studies concerning gender stereotypes and leadership styles; and
because its relational dimension was reportedly similar to connection. However, even
though it supponed the validity of the connection measure it wasn't as sensitive as the
picture test in capturing connection. Nor did it show the same relationship or any
consistent relationships to the independent variables . Further, It also didn't show any
consistent patterns of relationships to the independent variables.
D. HY 1-b Separate Results
The author hypothesized that ALL SUBJECTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO TELL
"SEPARATE" STORIES ABOUT THE MALE BOSS THAN THEY ARE A FEMALE
Considering aggregate responses, HY 1-b, is rejected. Five of 26 subjects generated
stories indicating separate for the M bosses. Three of 26 subjects generated stories
indicating separate for the F bosses (see Table 8). Overall there were few incidents of
separateness to the pictures: a total of 8, compared to 35 incidents of connection.
In a closer study of the data differences in the results by sex of subject were found.
While male Ss were more likely than female Ss to tell separate stories about a male boss
(MA= 58% vs. 0%), there was one case of a female subject using separate themes about a
female boss. In a small percentage of cases females told separate stories about the female
depicted alone (FA=14%) and about the female depicted as leading a group (FG=169M.
Similarly, no (zero) females used separate themes for the male alone (see Table 8). No
respondents (female or male) generated stories using separate themes for the authority
depicted in the group picture stimulus (MG=0%). (Based on the aggregate responses of
the story data, HYl-b, is rejected.)
The strongest result was the fmdmg that male Ss generated stories with a high
incidence of separate themes for the M boss depicted alone (see Table 8a). M bosses
elicited more separate story images than F bosses (5/26 vs 23/26). Male S's responding to
the PIC of the male boss alone generated more separate images than all of the conditions
together (see Table 8: 5/9=58%). The data set, dominated by male S's responses to the M
boss alone, indicated an interaction effect among three variables: sex of respondent,
gender of boss, and picture type. Based on the sex of subject, gender of the authority, and
picture type portion of the story data, partial confirmation of HY 1-b is reported.
The lower incidence of female stories including separate themes may be due to the
premise that females are less likely to see themselves or another as separate.
TABLE 8 SEPARATE RESPONSES BY SEX OF S
Sex of 8
Table 8a Separate Responses for Authority Alone by Sex of S
Sex of S
E. Hostility Results
The author hypothesized that MALE SUBJECTS ARE MORE LIKELY THAN
FEMALE SUBJECTS TO DISLIKE. DISAPPROVE, AND RESPOND WITH HOSTILITY
TOWARD THE WOMAN BOSS (HY2).
Hostile images were reported nine times across the 52 stories (Table 9). Coders
were in agreement 97% time (see Table 1). They also agreed that if the Hostile coding
scheme category definition was expanded to include negative descriptions of the
characters in the pictures, at least three more male stories about the female boss would
have been coded for the presence of hostility.
Aggregate data indicated that male S's generated more hostile stones than female S's
but they did not only direct hostility at F bosses. Six of the male respondents (n=27) used
hostile or violent images in their stories. Supporting Hypothesis 2 (HY 2), four of these
males wrote hostile or violent stories about the woman depicted in the picture, and two
directed their hostile stories at a man depicted in the picture. One story was written about
the woman alone (FA) and three of the stories were written about the woman in the group
(FG). While males were more likely than females to have incidents of hostility in their
stories (30% and 12% respectively) this only partially confirmed HY 2 because it was not
predicted for males to tell hostile stones about male bosses. Thirty percent of the time,
male subjects told hostile stories about the male boss depicted alone in the picture (see
Table 9). It was not expected that female respondents would write any hostile stones but
3/25 did. One female wrote a hostile story about the man depicted alone in the picture,
one female told a hostile story about the male depicted in the group, and the third female
respondent wrote a violent story about the female depicted alone in the picture (see Table
Analysis of one set of the picture test portion of the data, bosses depicted with a group
fsee Table 9: FG PIC; MG PIC), indicated confirmation for HY 2. A female boss elicited
more hostile stories from male subjects when she was depicted with a group than male Ss
generated hostile stories in response to the F boss depicted with a group but not to the M
boss depicted with a group.
Sex effects for authority figures depicted in the group were found. Fony percent of
the males wrote hostile stories about the FG boss compared to 0% males who generated
hostile stories about the FG boss. While the males did not tell hostile stories about the M
boss, there was one incidence of a female who generated a hostile story about a M boss.
Men used more hostile images across all pictures combined. HY 2 was supponed in
the analysis by the sex of respondent, gender of authority figure, and type of picture.
Males were more hkely than females to tell hostile, negative, or violent stories about the F
boss depicted with a group. This finding is consistent with the researcher's preliminary
examination (see Chapter 1) and the Pre -Test.
TABLE 9 HOSTILITY RESPONSES BY SEX OF S
Sex of S
A. Constructing Leader Behavior
In order to understand they ways men and women construct leader behavior, it is
necessary to first explain what "constructing leader behavior" means. Defining
construction as a process begins in a complex psychological tradition referred to as
"constructive-developmental" (Kegan, 1986, p.4). Kegan articulates a framework for the
study of constructive-developmental psychology in the larger context of personality.
Kegan wonders what happens if the evolution of the activity of meaning is taken as the
fundamental motion in personality (1986, p. 15). He suggests that there is no feeling, no
experience, no motive, no thought, no perception, independent of a meaning-making
context. Humans are the meaning making context in which all feeling and experience is
developed in which it becomes a feeling, experience, etc., because we are the
meaning-making context (p.l 1). We are a product of how we experience and how we are
experienced. Construction directs us to the activity that underlies and generates the form
of thingness of a phenomena (p. 13).
The idea of construction is reminiscent of Corot and his colleagues, the early
impressionist painters, who created masterpieces after seeing an out-of-focus photograph
for the first time. They "made meaning" out of that photograph when they perceived the
shimmering shadows, and experienced the blurred distortions as a basis for the creation of
wonderful new paintings. The results were two-dimensional worlds that invited the
viewer to step back and then walk right in. If the impressionist artists shared a secret it
was that the reality of the shifting, shimmering brushstrolces would be different for each of
The impressionist artists pushed the boundaries of art with new approaches, and in that
shift, made a dramatic impact on society for generations. Similar shifts are explored in the
current research focus on gender and constructing leader behavior. Employees stories'
about his or her private realities about leadership offers us an extraordinary opportunity.
We are presented with an unusual perspective on how an employee locates himself or
herself in the picture of what it means to be boss, authority, or leader.
The subjects role in this research is like that of a painter. Their projection of inner
meaning led to telling stories that paint a picture of the boss/employee relationship.
Projection, in this context, is defined by Atkinson (1958) and McClelland (1953) when
they isolated the psychological characteristic of achievement motivation through the use of
the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). McClelland (in Atkinson, 1958, p. 555)
postulated four kinds of projections-or relationships between the needs possessed by the
story tellers and the needs they attribute to their story heroes. These relationships include:
1) heroes with needs like the narrator's, 2) heroes with needs opposite to the narrator's, 3)
heroes with needs complementary or likely to stimulate the narrator's, and 4) heroes with
needs instrumental to the narrator's (1958, p. 556).
The current research reduces the four projection possibilities to one: heroes with needs
like the narrator's. Similar to Atkinson's (1958, p. 556) "Thematic Self Projection," the
researcher is concerned with the fundamental technique of the relation between the
narrator and the major character in the picture. The way the story teller makes sense out
of the picture is embedded in the picture he paints about the boss.
The stories include many projective statements. Projective statements are sentences
that evoke (Havens, 1986, p. 97). Through these sentences the whole picture of the boss
can be built. There are similarities to impressionist styles of painting. One brushstroke, or
dab of color, in shadows, or contained m the brilliance of light, took on little form alone.
Each feathery brushstroke evoked a strength of form that was built in combination with all
of the other dynamics of art--coIor, light, tone, shape, line, perspective, etc. Like the
artist's work the meaning of each segment of the narrator's story helps us discover the
whole picture of the boss.
The picture of the boss began in this study with a qualitative look at leadership.
Subjects were asked to imagine that they could tell a story about the boss in the picture.
This question yielded interesting data. Stories were packed with an extraordinary range of
motives and emotion. The following discussion demonstrates how connection is central to
the canvas of leadership. While the projective statements mainly evoked stories containing
connection, statements also included "separate" and "hostile" images. In this chapter, the
"connection," "separate," and "hostile" images helps us discover the whole picture of the
B. Connection Findings
Story themes illuminate the connection categories conceptualized in the coding
scheme. Generally the story imagery fell into these categories: CONSIDERS
OTHER/CARING; DEVOTED AND WILLING TO GET CLOSE; EMOTIONALLY
EXPRESSIVE AND ABLE TO REFLECT AND PROCESS FEELINGS OF
SUBORDINATES OR GROUP; and PAYS ATTENTION TO PROMOTING
SELF-ESTEEM IN SUBORDINATES.
It was particularly interesting, that regardless of the gender of the boss in the picture,
connected responses were elicited. Findings did not support the hypothesis that women
bosses would elicit more connection images than male bosses. However, female
respondents' stories contained more connection images than male respondents. The
findings are divided into two components. I. First, connection values are not related to
the gender of the boss in the picture. 2. Women use more connection themes when they
tell boss stories. In each case, the coding scheme categories of
CONSIDERATION/CARE; DEVOTED,WILLING TO GET CLOSE; EMOTIONALLY
EXPRESSIVE; AND PROMOTES SELF-ESTEEM IN SUBORDINATES provide the
focus for discussion.
1 . Connection Findings Are Not Related To The Gender Of The Boss In The Picture
Respondents often wrote stories about a boss who considered others in their
decision-making or leadership actions. Images concerning consideration and care emerged
in the narrators' discussion about both men and women bosses. This one component of
connection, illustrates the CONSIDERS OTHERS/CARING category of the coding
scheme. The respondent built an image of a boss who knew that the organization's
success began by creating opportunities to hear other than management views. This boss
IS a leader who listens to and is willing to help and care for subordinates. Sentences
included words and word phrases like help, interest, and care. While images of care and
helping others were typically written about the boss at work, care could extend outside of
work to the family and community.
A thirty-year old female wrote a story about the male boss m the group picture. This
was a story about Fred who had gathered his process engineers together to identify out of
control areas where there was a need to develop new processes. A careful picture is
painted about Fred who developed a step-by-step plan for successful product deliver*-.
The connection in this story included a consideration of others. When the group "failed to
interact" "meetings were scheduled by Fred" for extra help. Fred would attend all of the
"meetings except for one where he would be tlxing all the other woes of the Plant" and he
was "really trying to help everyone out." By considering others "Fred was somehow able
to manage and make it happen."
A 28 year old female wrote a similar story about the female boss in the group picture.
This boss carefully outlines profit margins in the explanation for new products. She
includes others in her presentation and uses the word "help" repeatedly to stress the
company's view on the new products. The woman boss knows that she has the
responsibility to facilitate the subordinate's understanding and listen to their views on
previous situations. "I wanted to meet with you. ..should help us a great deal. ..we'll be
dividing up into small groups to help us in discussion and to represent various products..."
Finally the boss promotes a goal and incentive, "Some of you will be chosen to go to the
big trade show." The boss, leading by considering others, concludes with an authoritative
leadership command, "Let's get down to business."
Sometimes leadership images about consideration or care included an expert creation
or invention designed for humanitarian purposes Respondents recognized expert talent in
both women and men. The important leadership detail was expertise combined with
sharing, saving, or helping. A 25 year old male wrote about the female boss depicted in
the group as senior scientist and lab leader. She was a genius and "developed a special
potion" that was the focus of her presentation. "She would save the world and
generations to come from the deadly disease." Another respondent, a forty-four year old
male wrote about the male boss depicted in the group picture. This was a story about
Harold, a former engineer who changed careers to help others using his specialty of
logistics. Although now teaching at a junior college, he is pictured presenting, "to a group
of future teachers how to apply his principles to the management of the elementary school
classroom. He has come up with a theory that should help everyone and anyone, in any
profession, how to become more efficient."
Many respondents generated stories with images of "nice" along with "caring" for the
imagined boss. Resisting gender stereotypes both males and females talked about the
boss who was a "great guy," "nice person," "friendly and easy-going," "well-rounded," or
"fun to be around" and at the same time "knew what was going on." This was a boss
whose care was not divided by gender. Both men and women were depicted as a
comfortable combination of no nonsense and nice. For the narrators, these were the kinds
of bosses that demonstrated leadership. The narrators openly expressed encouragement
for these bosses to succeed.
A twenty-seven year old female wrote a "great guy" story about the male depicted in
the group picture.
"Bob is this really great guy. He's our supervisor and right
now we are in a training class. We work for a small
advertising firm in downtown Boston. Bob was just
promoted to group supervisor and is doing a great job at it.
The first thing he did was he went to a very intensive
customer satisfaction plus training class. Now he is giving us
a crash course on what he learned. I think he should have
been promoted a long time ago. This guy Bob really knows
what's going on and he Knows how to be a leader. '
Perhaps the narrator recognizes that the premise for "knows how to be great leader"
includes an inner comfort that influences an ability to care and share. It's not so much
that this great leader happens to be a nice guy, it's that this nice, caring, guy has the ability
to connect with the group. A similar response was written by a forty-four year old female
who generated connection images for the female depicted alone. In her story, Marjory
was a division manager for a large international company. When she explained that
Marjory had presented an excellently received paper describing the way she manages,
words like "success" and "excellent" were used as much to describe Marjory's work as the
highlighted word "happy" was used to describe what Marjory was like. "Marjory is a
HAPPY manager. Marjory has a HAPPY efficient staff. GO MARJORY."
Both men and women bosses cared in ways that extended outside of the workplace.
They cared about family, dreamed of a better world, and looked forward to including a
son or daughter in their business. In one example, a twenty-three year old female wrote
that the male boss depicted alone as the principle of St. John's Prep. This principle was
very proud of the young men at school. "We strive to for good, hard-working, athletic,
giving, young men. We groom them for only the best colleges-Ivy League or nothing."
The female narrator concludes with images of the nice principle away from work. "In my
private time I enjoy my lovely life and family. Soon I look forward to my son Stanely who
will be able to join us at St. John's Prep."
In summary, of the CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS category, connection stories
included many caring bosses. Caring bosses are unique individuals who demonstrate
leadership because they know that doing their job means to listen, include, and consider
others in all the tasks of leadership. Here lies one of the burdens of authority. Care does
not connote a meddling, over-nunuring parent. Care for this extreme version of authority
would create a dependent child. When care is entwined with leadership it is more like
teaching and coaching than zealous parenting. The result appears to be a boss who has
created a participative working environment where others are encouraged to initiate. This
has occurred because the boss realizes that, for most groups, the subordinates will be
happy and motivated when the leader enthusiastically involves them . Respondents
indicate that everyone wants to be around these bosses. The following discussion
continues to examine how the power of connection defines an environment for
subordinate growth and evolving leadership.
The DEVOTED category emerged in stories containing images of devotion. The
devoted model of the boss was developed around two themes. First, respondents
wrote about devoted bosses and position level. In some of these stories the boss is
turned into a teacher. The devoted boss was not defined in the context of a high level
position. Story examples included phrases like, "devoted to others," and "showed
devotion." The second theme included the boss who facilitated the position level of
others or self because of devotion. DEVOTED; OR WILLING TO GET CLOSE
images appeared in both of these themes about a boss who was also described as
dedicated. "Devoted to her boss," "Dedicated," "extreme dedication to his
subordinates," illustrate. While "devotion" and "dedication" are not synonymous, it
appears in these stories that devotion and dedication are used interchangeably.
Examples illustrate the context of position level. Sometimes the boss was turned
into a teacher or manager who "instructed" others. A twenty-three year old female
told the story about the woman boss depicted alone as one of "not enough dedicated
teachers" because of "low pay." The respondent makes the point that the people who
could teach the 6, 7, and 8th graders best are not available because they have chosen
higher positions that "actually pay." In a similar example, a thirty-three year old male
uses "close" and able to create a "close and comfortable" atmosphere about the male
boss who is "instructing." In this example, the narrator clearly states the boss's
position level:". ..people look like co-workers or peers. ..does not look like a high level
meeting so the boss is probably a front line manager."
"His devotion to others... promotion he deserved;" and "Jane is CEO at AT&T. ..she has
worked her way up the corporate ladder because of hard work and dedication" are
statements from two stories illustrating the second context. These images illustrate the
context where dedication is rewarded and the devoted boss achieved promotion.
Sometimes the story images suggested that the devoted boss facilitated the role of a senior
executive. In other examples, devotion resulted in a promotion for the self. A
twenty-four year old female wrote about the woman boss depicted alone:
"My name is Sylvia Trenton. I am the Executive Liaison for
the Lieutenant Govenor for Paul Celucci. My responsibihties
include prioritizing all the L.G.'s appointments and meetings
as well as researching current issues being debated in the
current session of state congress. I have worked for several
govenors and lieutenant govenors, including Michael
Dukakis. During the 1988 presidential campaign I vvas
Govenor Dukakis's personal assistant and press liaison. I have
truly enjoyed my career in politics and had a deep devotion for
my home state of MA. I am currently 54 years of age and I
am considering retiring in two years. At the same time I
would like to devote my time to volunteer activities for the
elderly and mentally ill."
The stories suggested that devoted bosses are willing to get close both in work and
outside. When images in respondents" stories about the boss indicated that it was not a
high level meeting, like the front-line manager, or the job was low paying in the teacher
example, valued qualities of leadership appear to replace power with kinship or care.
The not-so-typical story was indicated when devotion and hard work resulted in
promotion, as in Jane's case, to a CEO position. It was as if the respondent ascribed a
science fiction, super human quality to her. She was a unique other world possibility.
Sylvia was no less talented but not so unique. There were more than a few Sylvia's.
Several women produced stories with the powerful undertone of care for boss. She
managed multilevels of work, and was a dedicated, devoted and talented leader. She
facilitated the power of someone else-by self-less caring for her boss, in this case, the
govenor. She was also a dedicated daughter and mother, a caretaker who found time to
In summary, the DEVOTED boss's are described as unusually competent,
hard-working, and dedicated leaders. It appears that "dedication" is a code word for
devotion. In the writers' stories we hear about a generosity of leadership spirit that
mirrors dedication to the workplace with community volunteering. Sometimes the
devoted bosses demonstrated loyalty to the workplace and sometimes the devoted boss
helped others to succeed. In some cases the devotion rewards came from giving " 1 10%."
Although bosses of either gender were described as devoted, there were more stones
about devoted women bosses. Perhaps devotion as evidence of connection is grounded in
empathy and believing in others.
EMOTIONALLY EXPRESSIVE bosses are leaders of process. Respondents
articulated stories that emphasized a central connection ingredient of insightful
understanding and emotional awareness. In some cases the leader was empathetic and
aware of feelings, even anxiety, with subordinates. In these cases it would appear that the
boss behaves as a connected knower and leader when he begins with an interest about the
facts of other people's workplace lives, but then shifts his focus to other people's ways of
thinking (Belenky and others, 1986, p. 1 15). For the respondents, this procedure takes the
concept of care into the harsh reality of the subordinate's workplace where task demands
are great and poor performance evaluations, for example, could result in job loss.
Respondents suggest that sensitivity is a necessary ingredient for connection to co-exist
with leadership. One story provides a striking example for the absence of emotional
connection. A thirty-two year old female wrote a about the male depicted alone, a
Corporate CEO for an automobile manufacturer, with statements indicating the absence of
connection: "...probably married with a daughter he spoils and a son who dislikes him. I
doubt that he has much real concern for his employees... or their lives and problems." The
absence of connection in this story includes the dichotomy of negative stereotyping for the
male CEO who is so limited that he is equipped with a bi-polar measuring device for
connection. His response is either too much— he spoils the daughter or it's not enough--his
son dislikes him. Does the narrator offer a family metaphor for mixed-sex interactions
between the boss and subordinates in the workplace?
This CEO story was unique in the absence of connection. Most respondents used
emotionally expressive and responsive connection detail with phrases like, "Jane feels
input from her people is an important tool, involvement of her people. ..keep the group
focused during this stressful time;" and "he reduces the tension;" and "knows how to keep
A 30 year old male wrote an extensive discussion about the boss depicted alone, who
had just called you, the subordinate, into the office for the annual performance review:
"...he appears calm and perhaps happy at first glance. Rather
than sitting behind the desk he comes forward and sits on his
desk directly in front of you as if to reduce the tension in the
room and give a more personal appearance. He begins to
speak in a calm voice, continuously smiling. ..It is obvious
from all outward indication that he has good things to say.
He gives a very positive review, highlighting the very
positive, and calmly mentioning, where improvements are
What is most striking about this male boss was the writers' attention to feeling and
emotional process. In the performance appraisal story we hear about a boss who is aware
of the anxiety-provoking situation of an evaluation. Leadership here is carefully
constructed around the demands for a guide and nurturer. The writer said it clearly, "...he
reduces the tension. ..uses a calm voice..." The boss in this story may have learned how to
adopt his sensitive view of the subordinate through explicit formal instruction. The writer
indicated otherwise. Rather than using separate images in his descriptions of the boss, he
painted a picture of the boss as a connected knower who learned through empathy
(Belenky and others, 1986, p. 115). The story generated images here that are similar to the
Consideration and Care category of connection. The leader is a successful teacher who
underlined strengths and encouraged improvement.
Emotionally expressive bosses were both technically competent and capable of paying
attention to the feelings of subordinates. For these bosses, feelings illuminate thought
(Belenky and others, 1986). Stressful moments were monitored carefully In an effort to
keep stressful responses withm a tolerable range, connected bosses adapted their feelings
and the feelings of others with care. They knew that total avoidance of anxiety m the
group denied important issues. Yet they were cautious about creating forums in the group
for emotionally charged responses that were too-stressful and distracted from a leadership
In the final category of connection respondents wrote stories that indicated a boss was
a leader who could promote self esteem in subordinates.
PROMOTES SELF ESTEEM images were evident in male and female stories.
Respondents described a boss who "made us feel good" and "informed us that we were
the best ones to work on the new product design," and "proud of us and our service."
2. Women Use More Co^fNECTlON Themes Than Men When They Tell Boss Stories
There were three ways that women's stories about bosses were more rooted in
connection themes than men's stories. This pattern was generally constant across all
pictures. The female respondents' examples of connection as a leadership metaphor
included variations on the following three themes: a. the boss had an ability to be close or
devoted, b. to demonstrate a facility for process in collaboration or team work, and finally,
c. the boss enjoyed vicarious leadership rewards from a subordinate's success. While all of
these connection images were described in a presentation of the boss's strength and
appeal, the researcher noted an interesting trend. Often, when females generated a story
with connection images about the woman boss; at the end the narrator suggested a reason
for undermining the leader's strength and appeal,
a. Close or Devoted
Sometimes close was about proximity. Stones included "he stood close to the group,"
"she was informal and close by." Sometimes it was to show that the leader could care and
help. "You could tell she wanted to help because she was close to the group," and "he
tried to be nearby, close and available for help," illustrate.
Stones included themes like, "extreme devotion to others at work". Close might
extend outside of work and refer to home and family. "Close to her family" or "he was
close to his wife and family" or "she worked there so she could be close to home and a
sick mother" or "devoted to family" are examples.
In a 28 year old female's story about the boss in the FG (Female depicted with a group)
picture, the writer wrote in the first person, and suggested encouragement and help in
"We are trying to reach this profit margin. ..and should
HELP US a great deal. ...I wanted to meet vvith you to
discuss the company's views and how they..."
In another story, a 49 year old female's story was about the boss as CEO in a company
formed by his father in the in the picture of the male depicted alone:
"Jim Peters is a 57 year old CEO in a company. ..that is now a
Fortune 500. He is seen by his peers to be understanding,
thoughtful, in his dealings with company personnel and a
dedicated family man."
Both stories contam women respondents' projections about a boss who was not
impersonal. Her private reality of feelings and personal beliefs were included (Belenky.
1986, p. 109). These women told a story about a leader who facilitated connections.
Like the woman boss who helped her subordinates by creating an optimal environment
for productivity through team-building, members of connected knowing groups engage m
collaborative explorations (1986, p. 119). As CEO, Jim Peter's actions are bounded by
devotion and dedication that extend outside of the workplace to the family,
b. Expression of Emotion and Attention to Process
Female respondents paid careful attention to process. They wrote stories with images
concerned with awareness of feelings, expression of discomfort or tension, maintaining or
restoring comfort; in the overall picture attention to process was recognized for the good
of the team, collaboration, and productivity.
Including others and seeking input are images of the connected boss. One story
example was written by a 3 1 year-old female about the male boss depicted with the group:
"The boss is having an informal get together with his staff
reporting what happened last quarter. He will be asking for
inputs from is staff regarding how the report look and if any
changes should be done. He will also ask for what they feel
their next plan should be."
In an interesting, somewhat fairy-tale combination of a woman recognized as "good"
and "happy" and "successful," a 44 year old female's story generated connection images
when she, the writer, encouraged the boss in the FA PIC:
"This is Marjory S., manager of a small division in a
large international company. She has just completed a
24 day conference on the Role of Managers and Their
Support Staff. Major presented an excellently received
paper describing the way in which she manages her
division. ..Majory is pleased that many colleagues have
requested interviews with her to discuss her successful
methods. Majory has brought some of her staff to
HELP in this process. Majory is a HAPPY manager.
Majory has a HAPPY, efficient staff. GO MAJORY."
c. Vicarious rewards for subordinate's success
Women wrote stories about a boss who specifically promotes self-esteem, and provides
goals and rewards. Story themes suggested that a boss "sets goals and rewards" and
"promotes others sense of self worth." A 52 year old female wrote about the male boss,
entrepreneur and CEO of a very successful software company:
"...I'm the VP of finance in the company, having been
with it since the days Joe started selling his game from
his attic office. We see Joe posing here for his picture
on Time magazine for man of the year. After the photo
shoot, Joe and all of his senior executives are leaving on
an all expense paid trip to Bali for a week. Joe felt that
this was so crucial to his receiving the award that he
wanted to reward us all. He is paying for this trip out of
his own pocket."
Joe IS described as an authority who gives the work and the rewards back to the people
in the company. He uses his prestigious award as an opportunity to teach company
members that good things happen to those that do good work. He promotes others
self-esteem, and therefore promotes himself and leadership when he generously shares his
award with everyone on a well-deserved trip.
For all three connection themes (stories with the boss devoted or close, a boss with
the facility for process, collaboration, encouragement of teamwork, and the boss who
enjoyed vicarious leadership rewards for a subordinate's success) women's stories did have
the tendency to end with statements that undermined the female boss's appeal. These
stories desribed a talented and expert boss but then ended with limiting images, "but she
decided not to pursue the higher status position" or "she took the position in a company
located closer to her aging mother." Female respondents who generated stories that
revolved around images of the woman boss's strength and appeal ended with damaging
qualifying statements that appeared to demonstrate one of two things: 1) discomfort with
power that was reflected in lower level or low paying positions, or 2) difficulty severing
family ties and connections with the past.
It appeared that these women bosses were too connected. They were depicted as
uncomfortable with power or incapable of severmg ties appropriately.
A 23 year old female wrote about a sacrificing, woman administrator and teacher in a
junior high school who received vicarious leadership rewards from helping students:
"(My job) is not only challenging, but also rewarding. I like
to think that I have made a difference in some of these
students' reading, writing, and speaking abilities. There are
just not enough DEDICATED teachers like myself, because
of the pay. ..they need to be taught enthusiasm. The people
that could probably HELP them learn have chosen other
professions that pay. But that is not what is important to
me. My pay off is HELPING these kids on to high school,
which is where having good educational habits becomes
Other women's stories contained the dilemma that Belenky and others (1986. p. 77)
reminded us was central to Gilligan's work-women are drawn to the role of caretaker.
Images of women as giver, nurturer, puttmg her needs last were found m the stones about
the female boss. While it was not an absolute that these family-oriented images were
missing from their stories about male leaders, they appeared to be a different quality in the
discussion. Compatible with Belenky (1986, p. 76) women were cautious and recognized
that it took great courage to sever connections from family and past.
A 58 year old female's story about the FA succinctly illustrated the family connection:
"I am a person that has been in the professional para-legal field
for the past fifteen years. I am single and AT HOME where I
CARE for an aging mother."
One 23 year old story mirrored the close to home theme for the FG:
"She is in her mid 40's. Her title is Regional Training Manager.
In this picture she is conducting a new product training course
for the staff.. .held this position for 7 years, with an annual salary
of $63,000. Prior to that she was in field sales, but as she grew
older decided to find a position that would provide more stability
and allow her to remain CLOSER TO HOME."
C. SEPARATE THEMES
Separate themes were written more by the men about the male boss. The images
written by the males reflected stereotypes and norms for interweaving "manliness" and
boss. The result was a manager with such a light-hold on the rules of the organization,
that there was a perceived danger of violation. Leaders did not emerge in these stories.
Findings suggest that there was a significant difference in the separate images between
male and female respondents for the male depicted alone.
Separate knowers are tough-minded; they assume that everyone, including themselves,
might be wrong (Belenky and others, 1986, p. 104). Separate story imagery generally fell
into the following categories: CONSIDERED THE SELF; CONSIDERED HOW THE
DECISION WAS JUSTinES;CONSIDERED WHETHER VALUES OR PRINCIPLES
OR RULES WERE MAINTAINED; DOES NOT PAY ATTENTION TO FEELINGS
OR PROCESS OF THE GROUP.
Consider a 28 year old male with 7 years of professional experience. He described the
tough-minded boss in the male alone picture and wrote a key phrase m capital letters:
"...confident, organized, leader who commands respect, RUNS
a TIGHT SHIP."
The tough minded boss justifies a decision because he follows some pre-conceived
ideal of authority.
Now consider a 27 year old male's story about the same boss. Instead of identifying
with any "separate" leadership traits he wrote a bizarre tale:
"I see a stressed ridden middle aged homosexual who is trying to
hide in a heterosexual world. The man has a nervous smile
which leads me to believe that he is unhappy with his life of
illusion. His dress shows me that he is another sheep that
conforms to corporate America. I see a man that is not
progressing professionally so he works harder and longer but
still comes up on the short end to younger executives."
In the first separate story, the narrator wrote about a separate boss who runs a tight
ship. He suggested that such a tough-minded approach commanded leadership respect.
In contrast, the second story teller wrote about the negative results of playing by the rules.
Sexual imagery here suggests other than separate themes. However, the narrator paints a
strong separate picture when he wrote about, "another sheep that conforms to corporate
America." Perhaps research in the field of the psychology of men is helpful in
understanding this story. Connell and Kimmel (cited in Levant, 1992, p. 381) assumed
that people have an inner psychological need to have a gender identity, and that the extent
to which this inherent need is met is determined by how completely they embrace their
traditional gender role. Development is a failure-prone process. Perhaps the narrator's
projection themes are about fears of failure for the man in his story. His story might also
be explained by the literature that suggested a man unable to achieve a masculine gender
role identity was thought to result in homosexuality (Ibid. 1992, p. 381).
Separate story images suggest that the male authority stirs powerfully mixed feelings
for the male respondent. Perhaps he knew from disappointing experience that it is difficult
to distinguish an already vulnerable masculine identity from an authority role.
Other separate images were evident when a respondent identified the male boss as
incapable of paying attention to feelings and process. The following example illustrates.
One narrator wrote a story about a boss who is removed and separate from the
emotional process of reprimanding a subordinate for a job done incorrectly.
The images are about an authority who defends himself against the interpersonal with a
deliberate non-emotional distance. The 37 year old male wrote:
"The person in the picture is a boss who is getting ready
to chastise an employee for not doing his job properly.
He has a smile on his face and speaks very softly and
slowly. He never raises his voice or changes his tone,
however he makes it perfectly clear that he is unhappy
with his employee's performance. I don't understand how
he can react so calm and show no signs of how upset he
Separate knowing is especially aroused in situations where a subordinate is expected
to fulfill authority standards. Belenky and others (1986, p. 107) suggest that under such
conditions separate knowers make themselves open to criticism. Since they believe that
authority is nonarbitrary, and rests on reason rather than power and status (p. 108), there
is no room for the interpersonal, no opportunity for expression of feelings. The
fascinating thematic projection in this story appears to be about the separate need relation
between narrator and boss character in the story. Does the narrator wonder how he
personally justifies not expressing strong emotions in the authority/subordinate
The following story is a particularly revealing example of both separate and connection
imagery. The narrator, a 31 year old male, wrote about ambivalent employee responses to
the leader's role in training (MA picture):
"The gentleman in this picture is the Plant Manager of a small
corporation with several facilities. His company has gone
through downsizing due to a decreasing sales in his product.
He semi annually produces video-tapes(in which this picture
is taken) to send to each facility to inform the people on
company status and to hopefully improve morale. People's
inputs are given to the Plant Manager based on discussions
after viewing. The employees feel positive about
management's attempt to keep them informed and involved.
However, the impersonal process that was taken has had little
effect on increasing morale."
D. HOSTILE THEMES
1 . Men Tell More Hostile Stores ABOirr the Boss
Hostile themes generated by the narrators provided evidence of the authority as the
adversary. The central question was whether or not hostility stories were more likely to
be written by the males about the woman bosses. While there were no significant
differences found in hostility stories for female and male respondents, males generated
more hostile stories than females. Men wrote aggressive images like, "...I'd like to see her
get fired," or "...he may not be smiling too long." Images were negative and sometimes
inferred violence: "I'll show her what pain feels like..." "She held a shaft meeting."
Although men's hostile images were not only directed at female authority pictures, a
trend of hostility toward the female boss was recognized in the male stories. The apparent
se.x and hostility effects on authority, suggest a gender impact on the construction of
anger. It is therefore necessary to first discuss how anger is constructed.
Hostility, anger, and violence, although impulses experienced by both sexes, are more
typically attributed to males than to females. Defining the role of anger in an individual's
private reality is no easy task. As Jean Baker Miller (1991) understands it, there are three
assertions in the definition of inner constructions of anger-or aggression, violence, and
hatred. First, she suggests that we suffer constraints that prevent us from expressing and
even from knowing we are experiencing anger. For members of each sex these constraints
have different meanings. Second, while expression is constrained we live in an
environment that produces anger. For both sexes this occurs on both the society level and
during psychological development, but differently for each. Third, she underlines that one
sex has differentially been encouraged in the expression of anger. And the very conditions
that produce so much anger grow out of a reality where the expression of anger is
predominant in one sex only ( p. 181).
Anger may be defined as an emotion that can be expressed in nonverbal and verbal
ways. Quite simply, it tells us that something is wrong, something hurts, and needs
changing. Therefore, anger provides a powerful recognition of discomfort. Then it sets in
motion motivation for action to bring change or alleviation of conditions that are
perceived to be anger-inducing (Miller, 1991, p. 188).
The possibilities for experiencing anger, knowing it when we feel it, and healthy
expression presents different problems for men and women. For men, problems begin in
the traditional hierarchical structure of culture and end in the evidence for similar
patterning in psychological development. Most affected here are the intimate relationships
between fathers and sons. Research indicates that the young boy, replicating the pattern
of society, is not permitted to directly express his anger to the father, leader of the family.
At the same time, he is encouraged to be aggressive, fight-back, fear being "beaten-out"
by another, or worse be like a girl (Ibid. p. 189).
Miller cites some questionable and troublesome evidence that fathers encouraged boys'
aggressive actions and even provoked hostility in them (Block, 1978 and Gleason, 1975 in
Miller, 1991, p. 189). If anger and hostility were provoked in boys by their fathers, and
then these young children were punished it for it by the very same fathers, complex
ramifications would exist. The one that is relevant for the current research concerns
developmental observations that growing up male with an emotionally absent father might
explain hostility in men (Kegan, 1982; Maccoby, 1975; Osherson, 1986; Levant, 1992).
The quest for a father figure in dealing with authority is a reported to be a uniquely painful
experience for men (Osherson, 1986, p. 52). Men have been so disappointed by their
father figures that they carry around within themselves an angry or judgmental father
(1986, p. 40). As a result, they imagine male authorities as easily provoked to wrath, and
basically wrathful or violent. According to Osherson, the angry father theme reflects the
tension between fathers and sons growing up, the way that they are rivals to each other,
with little opportunity to heal their connection (1986, p. 40). While Osherson's theory
alone does not explain this researcher's findings about conditions when male hostility is
specifically directed at a woman in authority, or when female hostility is directed at either
gender authority, it may explain the fact that male subjects generated more hostile stories
than female subjects. Stories illustrate.
A 28 year old male wrote about the boss in the MA picture with implied hostility:
"This person is the acting CEO of his particular
organization. He was promoted to "Acting CEO" when the
previous management team was fired for lack of production
and unhappy stockholders. He may not be smiling too
The hostility generated by the males in the stories, similar to the CEO, demonstrated
how a narrator identified with the story hero. A multitude of feelings were translated into
aggressive action. When these stones were specifically about male bosses two patterns
emerged. One context concerned aggressive action taken out on other than the real
source--the father. Here, the adult remembers the hurt and humiliated boy within who
was never encouraged to express his sometimes angry feelings to his father. Instead he
was rewarded by Dad for turning extreme emotion into aggressive actions (Miller, 1991,
p. 190). For these men hostility is humiliation remembered forever.
In the second context, males generated hostile stories about other men in the service of
proving one-up manship. Anger and aggression is deflected when it is channelled into
organized game-playing (Miller citing Gilligan, 1991, p. 191). If males learned to play by
the rules of organized games then hitting, hurting, and beating another male constitutes
both winning and hostility.
When the men wrote hostile stories about men it appeared to be in response to
perceived danger. Some man was m their way. For the few women's hostile stories, in
paradox, aggression was the only action for success. When a woman wrote a hostile boss
story she was the subordinate and aggressive action was the only avenue to position
Consider the 28 year old female who wrote about the female boss depicted alone. The
respondent boasted about the cleverly planned and perfect murder:
"The self-satisfied smile of a job well done. That's how Helena perceived the
death of her boss, Dalton Smythe. It was efficient, untraceable
and. ..completed. He'd thought to run her out of the company. Oh, he was
all polite smiles and supposed confidences but she knew better. She knew
his reputation. It had traveled with him from corporation to corporation.
He kept a neat house. And he cleaned it often. She had planned her
offensive. She'd brainwashed the postman, a la The Manchurian Candidate.
It was easy, they were so volatile. He'd delivered the package with the
expected results. It had read, "Marquis de La Fayette;s Historical
Miniatures." There had been 7 cavalry men, 5 foot soldiers, and 2
lieutenants. A gift from a happy client for the tabled display in his office. He
had been delighted. He'd spoken of it at the morning meeting. She had
feigned interest. At noon, the time he always had his first and last cigar of
the day, the assault was launched. The foot soldiers had split into 2 flanks, a
lieutenant heading up each and the cavalry had charged. By the time the last
stroke of 12 had sounded, they had all fired their weapons. He was found
dead in his chair, the expression on his face a mixture of wonder at the
reaUstic craftmanship and the dawning horror of true comprehension.
She had just been named interim CEO. They'd make it permanent. She
was sure. They'd taken this picture of her for the new stock portfolio. When
the photographer told her how well she was holding up she replied that she
was "smiling through the pain. Its what Dalton would have wanted."
The respondent's relation to the herome m her story includes murder in the surprising
equation for corporate leadership. She drives out her opposition by destroying him. Does
the story teller identify with the woman boss who single-handedly masterminds the murder
of the male boss to make room for her succession as CEO? To act in ones own mterest,
as a woman, is the psychic equivalent for aggressive and destructive (Miller, 1991, p. 202).
Miller (1991) suggests an explanation for the violent example that is evidence of female
anger in the story. Miller claims that any subordinate is in a position that constantly
generates anger. The dilemma is that this is one of the emotions that no dominant group
ever wants to allow in subordinates. Although women are the ones that know the threats
of physical violence, they are generally made to believe that they have no cause for anger.
More confusing, if women feel anything like anger they are made to think that there is
something wrong with them--they are sick or maladjusted (1991, p. 183). Miller indicates
that the specific psychological dimensions of a woman's identity and constitution explain
the dilemma. She should be a person who is almost totally without anger or the need for
anger (p. 184). Thus the workplace is stunned by or has little tolerance for the hostility
images in the female murder story.
2. Men Tell Hostile Stories About the Woman Boss Depicted with a Group
When the woman boss was depicted with a group, males wrote stories built around
a pattern of hostility that seemed directed by the mixed-sex interaction of the group. The
pattern in these stories suggested that the aggressive male images were due to hostility
guided by confused anger. They expected someone or something else. The narrators
wrote stories with images that suggested disappointment and fear in their response to the
female boss in the mixed-sex group. In the ongoing story interactions, he is angry with the
female boss, he fears that her position of authority diminishes his identity, so he acts out
aggressively, perhaps even violently. She can never hurt him again (Miller, 1991, p. 190).
A 29 year old male indicated hostile wishes toward the Female boss depicted with a
group and used an interesting typo twist on her name, "Gail" :
"Jail IS sporting a very fake smile right now. She is my manager
and she and I don't get along at all, Her smile is so fake it
MAKES ME SICK. She will do anything to get ahead. She
doesn't care who she has to walk over to get it done either. She
has BaCKSTABBED ME one to many times. I would love TO
DIG UP SOME DIRT ON HER THAT WOULD PUT HER IN
THE DOGHOUSE. She is currently pulling some strings to get
our regional manager's son into a private college. So if she pulls
it off she will look like the cat's meow in his eyes. I CAN'T
STAND JAIL, I WISH THERE WAS SOMETHING I COULD
DO TO GET HER HRED."
A summary of hostile themes in the boss stories suggests that there is a dichotomy of
gender responses to the authority. These differences are contained in story images around
three themes. First, men write more hostile stories, which possibly reflects a deeply
rooted humiliation. They get angry at the boss and challenge with some form of action.
Second, when women tell hostile stories it's less for self-preservation than it is for success.
If women do not grow tearful with anger, if they do not turn anger inward, then they are
considered selfish and destructive (Miller, 1991, p. 187). Finally, mixed-sex interactions
around the woman boss presents an especially confusing picture for male narrators.
Suddenly the woman changes from the soothing non-threatening being of comfort and
care into a confusing and powerful force that combines the unmentionable: sexuality and
E. Final Note
The questions raised in this study center around the connected, separate, and hostile
picture images. It is therefore imponant to note here that cross-validity was established
with the L-BLA and that there was strong coder agreement for all three coding schemes.
The coders for the research utilized a presence/absence scale in the story coding. It would
appear at first glance that another research methodology, one that determined degrees of
connection, separate, or hostile, would provide a more sensitive measure. I firmly believe
that connected or separate ways of leading are not a matter of degree. The imaginary boss
was either connected or not; separate or not, hostile or not. It would be interesting to go
back and refine the coding categories. Future research might benefit from an e.xpanded
coding scheme that reflected connected, separate, or hostile leading.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
This research is a product of my teaching in the mostly male world of engmeering
where I have observed evidence of sex differences in student response. Experience taught
me that men students were more likely than women to appear confused, get distracted,
and even behave with hostility m my classes of both pre-dominantly male and mixed-sex
groups. Conversations with women professors at other universities, and women managers
across regions of the United States convinced me that I was not alone. They were secretly
experiencing the same reaction that I was. The result of all this thinking and observing
was a preliminary investigation leading to this research, "Gender and Leadership: Men
and Womens' Stories."
I was convinced that these male students' response was based on how they experienced
their hopes, fears, disappointments, and expectations of me (as a woman) in the authority
role. I began to formulate a way of explaining their behavior, based in part on gender
theory, and in part on traditional norms for leadership. Perhaps I speculated, their images
of female gender and authority role were in conflict, when faced with anything other than
the traditional male authority.
The thinking that guided this research used the notion of connected versus separate
knowing as the key to how individuals construct their understanding of authority and
leadership. It was through those lenses that this study was conceived. Previous studies
(Gilligan, 1982; Lyons, 1982; Beienky and others, 1986; Miller, 1986) had developed
gender theory, especially the associations between women and connection, and men and
separate but none of these involved leadership. Through this study I decided to look at
gender and leadership, using the connected versus separate lens.
The present study indicates that gender is indeed a salient ingredient in understanding
leadership. The following four statements summarize the findings:
■ Gender Is An Influence In How Leadership Is Defined.
■ Connection Is Central To Male And Female Leadership Images For Employees Of
■ Separate Leading Is A Male Image, Mainly Applied To The Male Boss.
■ More "Hostile Boss" Stories Are Written By Men Than By Women.
1 . GENDER is an influence in how leadership is defined.
The sex of the respondent and the gender of the boss have an impact on the
definition of leadership. Family and developmental theory suggests that females choose
careers consistent with family background and relationships with their father. Encouraged
to fill the "good daughter" role, women are often dismissed from formal authority
possibilities. Nadelson's (1990) research indicates that the gender influence on authority
begins in adolescence. In teenage girls competitiveness and ambition are often seen as
threats to both an evolving sense of femininity and as impediments to relationships with
men. Since both competitiveness and ambition are characteristic of authority and
leadership, young women often choose to behave in ways that they perceive as more
popular and polite. Current studies support the notion that "good daughter" and
"authority" do not belong together (Jordan and others, 1991).
Since the vvorkplace includes men and women, a frustrating dilemma occurs. The
culture of the vvorkplace may be defined by gender values that are so deeply embedded
that they are not perceptible (Schein, 1986; Nadelson, 1990; Heifitz, 1994).
The most productive organizations are guided by leaders that manage without the
old model of "heroic" leaders. They are aware that adults need to be treated like adults
not like adolescents. What future problems can be avoided by recognizing that some
leaders encourage or support the "teenage daughter" role from women? If women are
limited by workplace restraints, they are denied a place in the picture of leadership. An
organization that is not internally integrated with the values of a diverse workforce will be
incapable of external adaptation (Schein, 1986; Rosener, 1991).
2 CONNECTION is central to male and female leadership images for
employees of both sexes.
The meaning of the connection findings are contained in the stories about the boss as
"authority" or "leader." Women and men tell stories about a different kind of a boss, a
new model of authority, and an evolving theory of leadership that is not gender specific.
We stipulated that a connected boss cares, is capable of close interactions, expressive and
gifted in process issues, facilitates collaboration, and promotes self esteem in others. As a
result the connected boss is capable of harvesting other leadership.
Not all feminist theorists think alike. Most favor findings of no gender differences or
small differences (Eagly, 1995, p. 149). While Gilligan (1982) takes the oppostite position
when she theorized about large fundamental differences (in moral reasoning), this research
indicates thiat there are small gender differences in the numbers of connected boss stories
Men and women generated connected leader stones, and men and women emerged as
connected leaders. Tapping into their private realities about an authority suggests that
leadership does not occur in isolation but in men and womens' relation to each other.
Inherent in a relational model for leadership is the way connected leading emerges. In
this context, you can have too much of a good thing. Some stories depicted a
troublesome result when women had difficulty severing ties or were over-attached. The
"too connected" boss misleads and may foster overly dependent relationships with the
group. Consequently, she was not likely to harvest leadership in others.
Shifting away from a flexible adult form of a relationship, too much connection
reverts back to early definitions of the mother-child relationship (Jordan, 1991, p. 63). In
this vision of connection the authority was a woman who sacrificed herself for others, and
was over-involved at work. Are women prone to erasing the self? Women are most
comfortable in a world of work where they are not limiting but enhancing the power of
others while simultaneously increasing their own power (Miller, 1991). Many of us have
mixed feelings about authority (Heifetz, 1994). Connected images for the authority,
however, define power differently than how history has defined and created power.
Promising possibilities exist here for developing a perspective about leadership, women,
and inteactions at work.
When the boss is constructed as close and devoted, sensitive to emotional process,
she gives the work back to the group. It would be fascinating for future research to
consider how leaders mobilize people to tackle tough work problems (Heifetz, 1994)
through the connected practice of including others. Does connected authority present a
welcome diversion for troubled organizations that are "over managed" and "under-led"
3. SEPARATE leading is a male image, mainly applied to the male boss.
Separate authority is defined by detachment and distance. Their procedure for
knowing is based on "objectivity" and having the right answers (Belenky and others,
1986). Questions for future research appears to be clearly defined by the principles of
separate authority and the resulting limitations on leadership. Why is separate authority
perceived as less adaptive than connected authority? Will the separate authority manage
others by providing answers, while the connected authority creates an optimally
motivating atmosphere? If so, separate authority is reminiscent of traditional Theory X
assumptions about people and work— people need to be told what to do; and connected
authority is similar to emerging Theory Y assumptions that people are mobilized by a
motivating climate (McGregor, 1961).
Developmental theory takes another approach and offers an early childhood
perspective. Most little girls don't want to play with most little boys. Little boys are
detached and ignore girls in play (Maccoby, 1974). What happens to the girls that don't fit
into the "most" category? Do they develop into women who are especially adaptive at
senior authority levels? Why are there so few separate images in women's stories? Are
they incapable of it or are they ignoring separate authority images?
4. More HOSTILE BOSS stories are written by men than by women.
The first questions for future research concern methodology. The author is not
convinced that there are significant differences in the current research's hostility findings
with the preliminary examination and the pre-test. At first glance both previous tests
produced somewhat higher hostile responses by males to the woman boss. And, there was
absolutely no evidence of female hostility. In the first, the preliminary examination,
perhaps the female sample size was too small to gamer a representative female response.
Further, the academic setting and fears about performance, may have contributed to what
was perceived as a "hostile" atmosphere for the male subjects. This may have produced
angry or aggressive responses. The preliminary examination included both female and
male test administrators. In contrast, the pre-test and the final research utilized only male
test administrators. Since the real life setting of the workplace includes males and females
in positions of authority, further research needs to consider enlarging the sample size to
include both female and male test administrators. Finally, for the purpose of completing a
reasonable sample size less than eight of the fifty-two respondents, of each gender,
narrated stories for the four pictures. Most of previous test hostility stories were written
by the males about the woman depicted with the group. Only seven of the 52 respondents
in the sample were males who responded to the female depicted with the group. It would
appear that increasing the number of responses to that picture would produce
proportionally higher hostility responses.
Since the relationship between connected and separate knowers is adverserial
(Belenky and others, 1986), future research might consider the link between separate
authority and hostility. This research would be particularly intriguing if the focus was on
rmxed-sex interactions. What are the theoretical implications for women in authority
positions if hostility in men's stones is reflective of the mi.xed gender and the affiliative
quality of the group (Pollak, 1983)?
Research indicates that men weren't happy when women acted assertive in
communication. The men were not willing to be persuaded by her and said that they
disliked her (Carli, 1991). The conception of a women's role suggests interesting
questions. There are transferential aspects of the role of women (Kanter, 1977). One
dramatic organizational example illuminates. Tavistock-type group were experiences held
at a university undergoing turmoil as a result of an initiative by women to gam greater
access to positions of power and authority. The consultants found significant and
pervasive behavioral differences depending on the gender of the group leader. In female
led groups, men described feelings of loss of control because their ability to function "as
males" was hampered, they expressed relief and a "return to normalcy" when they were
able to join male led groups. Initially women in female-led groups were assertive,
instrumental, and task-oriented. However, over time their assertiveness and identification
with their leader dwindled, and they began to vie for male attention in traditional ways.
Women who refused to relinquish their assertive roles received the majority of male and
female anger. Groups with male leaders reported traditional sex-role patterns of behavior
in both men and women (Mayes, 1979). There are similarities to the current research
findings. In the light of the hostility images in authority pictures, it would be useful to
explore angry responses further. Is group projective-identification a powerful influence on
hostile responses to the woman authority? When is connected leading or the absence of
connected leading resulting in hostile responses? Why are the men's responses more
hostile than the women's responses?
Anger and authority sets up different kinds of problems for men and women. For
men, the deflection of anger along with the stimulation of the workplace-encouragmg
dominant males to be aggressive to colleagues and subordinates-is the problem. For
women, the problem is the situation of subordination that produces anger—along with a
society and workplace's intolerance of women's expression of anger of any kind (Miller,
1991, p. 193).
In conclusion, there are three major themes that flow from these findings.
1. Gender as a variable ought to be included in research designs and methodologies for
the study of leadership. This dissenation points both to the complexity of understanding
gender differences and to the necessity for a methodology that taps into an affective
dimension. The projective methodology used here provided an opportuntiy to capture
feelings and emotions not likely to be recorded otherwise. It was therefore possible to
investigate authority more deeply than usual.
2. Current psychological theories of identity development include connected and separate
ways of knowing. Concern for care and attachment (or what is referred to as connection),
and differentiation and emotional disconnection (or what is referred to as separate), may
be distinct understandings that can be developed in early relationships with significant
others in childhood, but are understandings found in adults and for both sexes. This much
has been well-stated by previous research, but it has not taken the connected/separate
meaning specifically into adulthood applications, especially the ways males and females
construct authority. Subordinates and followers, in boss-employee interactions may need
to take this into consideration because of these very different meanings of authority
images. Similarly, the same point applies to students in relation to teachers. Individuals in
all positions of authority, whether they are in industrial or academic organizations, need
to consider these implications because of how the different images define the tasks,
successes and conflicts of leading.
Images of connection were used by both male and female respondents, although used
more frequently by women, and they were elicited for both female and male authority
figures. The images suggest a construct of leadership that is not absolutely tilted toward
the traditional male-model of differentiation and separation, and in fact, includes themes of
connection for both sexes.
3. Current prescriptive models of leadership take into account that authorities use
different adaptive measures and consider the emotional readiness of the followers. These
approaches have not been previously attached to connected versus separate ways of
The connected leader cares, includes others by giving opportunities and work back to
the group, pays attention to process, and promotes self-esteem. Separate authority is
detached and distant and based on relevant expertise. Since connected leading is a large
part of what works and what subordinates are wishing for, further investigation is
necessary to determine why more managers have not actually adopted a connected
It may be useful to examine organizational norms that reinforce and encourage
separate authority. Are separate themes more likely to define the male boss as viewed by
the men because most managers are male, working in systems where the organizational
norms carry-over from an archaic history? This constitutes a traditional authonty model.
The separate boss is most effective in coping with technical problems. He is critical,
invested in proving what is wrong or right, and adhering to the rules of higher-ups.
Although competent, he could hardly be considered a leader. He resons to one of two
group-defeating strategies. He either pretends to know the answers because it is his job to
do so, or he denies or avoids the issues, hoping that they will disappear. When the
separate boss is called upon for more adaptive measures, like guidance and direction, he is
absent. The role of the separate boss betrays leadership aspiration. Perhaps the separate
boss is not equipped or emotionally ready yet for leading. Further investigation would
need to consider questions concerning the emotional readiness of the authority and
organizational norms for leadership in the connected versus separate struggle. New
definitions for leadership may require members of an organization to reconcile the
connected versus separate opposites. Is this struggle behind subordinate hostility or anger?
If men are more hostile, is it due to a separate and adverserial view of authority? Or, is
male hostility humiliation remembered forever? How would leaders use preventive or
adaptive strategies for coping with hostility directed at women in authority?
In conclusion, the current research suggests that gender influences construction of
authority through connected and separate images. Leadership seen in this perspective, is a
struggle to include connection, along with separate, as an integral and neglected aspect of
the ways individuals understand authority.
L-BLA ACHIEVING STYLES INVENTORY
Responses range from 1 (never) to 7 (always):
I. For me, the most gratifying thing is to have
solved a tough problem.
2 . I get to know important people in order to
3. I achieve my goals through contributing to the
success of others.
4- For me, winning is the most important thing.
5. When I want to achieve something, I look for
6 . I work hard to achieve so people will think well
of me .
7. I want to be the leader.
8. More than anything else, I like to take on a
9. Faced with a task, I prefer a team approach to an
individual one .
10. I seek out leadership positions.
II. Winning in competition is the most thrilling thing
I can imagine.
12. I feel the successes or failures of those close to
me as if they were my own.
13. I strive to achieve so that I will be well-liked.
14. The more competitive the situation, the better I
15. Real team effort is the best way for me to get a
16. I achieve by guiding others towards their goals.
17. For me, the most exciting thing is working on a
18. I seek guidance when I have a task to accomplish.
19. I have a sense of failure when those I care about
20. I develop some relationships with others to get
what I need to succeed.
21. I seek positions of authority.
22. I am not happy if I don't come out on top m a
23. My way of achieving is by coaching others to their
24. For me, group effort is the most effective means
25. I look for support from others when undertaking a
26. I establish some relationships for the benefits
27. I try to be successful at what I do so that I will
28. I want to take charge when working with others.
29. When a loved one succeeds, I also have a sense of
accomplishment although I make no direct contribu-
30. I strive to achieve in order to gain recognition.
31. I look for reassurance from others when making
32. For me, the greatest accomplishment is when the
people I love achieve their goals.
33. I go out of my way to work on challenging tasks
34. I succeed by taking an active part in helping
others achieve success.
35. I use my relationships with others to get things
Working with others brings out my best efforts.
I select competitive situations because I do
better when I compete.
Being the person in charge is exciting to me.
I work to accomplish my goals to gain the admira-
tion of others.
40. I establish a relationship with one person in
order to get to know others.
41. My way of achieving is by helping others to learn
how to get what they want.
42. The accomplishment of close others gives me a
feeling of accomplishment as well.
43. For me, the greatest satisfaction comes from
breaking through to the solution of a new problem.
44. When I encounter a difficult problem, I go for
45. My best acheivements come from working with
*** ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE **
BY C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Sum of Mean
Source of Variation Squares DF Square
Main Effects 6.854 3 2.285
C_SEX .000 1 .000
C_GPICT 5.027 1 5.027
C_A_NOT 1.164 1 1.164
2-way Interactions 3.469 3 1.156
C^SEX C_GPICT 2.346 1 2.346
C_SEX C_A_NOT .006 1 .006
C_GPICT C_A_NOT 1.140 1 1.140
3-way Interactions .101 1 .101
C_SEX C_GPICT C_A_NOT .101 1 .101
Explained 10.424 7 1.489 .623 .734
Residual 105.189 44 2.391
Total 115.612 51 ' 2.267
52 Cases were processed.
Cases ( .0 PCT) were missing.
M U L T I
PLE CLASSIFICATION ANALYSIS
By C_SEX Gender of Subject
C~GPICT Gender of Boss
C~A_NOT Alone or Group
Grand Mean = 5.077
Variable + Category
De V n Eta
Adjusted for Independents
Independents + Covariates
DeV n Beta Dev ' n Beta
- . 17
Multiple R Squared
*** ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE
BY C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Source of Variation
2 -way Interactions
52 Cases were processed.
Cases ( .0 PCT) were missing.
By C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Grand Mean = 4 . 904
Variable + Category
Ad3usted for Independents
Unadjusted Independents + Covariates
De V n Eta De V n Beta Dev ' n Beta
- . 10
Multiple R Squared
*** ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE
BY C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Source of Variation
52 Cases were processed.
Cases ( .0 PCT) were missing.
2 . 576
*** MULTIPLE CLASSIFICATION ANALYSIS **•
By C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Grand Mean = 4.712 Adjusted for
Adjusted for Independents
Unadjusted Independents + Covariates
Variable + Category N Dev ' n Eta Dev'n Beta DeV n Beta
1 Female 25 -.08 -.08
2 Male 27 .07 .08
1 Female 26 .16 .15
2 Male 26 - . 16 - . 15
1 Alone 29 - . 11 - . 10
2 Group 23 .14 .12
Multiple R Squared .020
Multiple R .140
*** ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE
LBLAR Overall Relational Mean
BY C_SEX Gender of Sub3ect
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Source of Variation
52 Cases were processed.
Cases ( .0 PCT) were missing.
2 . 061
1 . 167
•*' MULTIPLE CLASSIFICATION ANALYSIS ***
LBLAR Overall Relational Mean
By C_SEX Gender of Subject
C_GPICT Gender of Boss
C_A_NOT Alone or Group
Grand Mean = 4.897 Adjusted for
Adjusted for Independents
Unadjusted Independents + Covariates
Variable + Category N De V n Eta Dev ' n Beta Dev ' n Beta
1 Female 25 - . 06 - . 07
2 Male 27 .05 .06
1 Female 26 .25 .23
2 Male 26 - .25 - .23
1 Alone 29 - . 15 - .13
2 GrouD 23 .19 . 16
Multiple R Squared .047
Multiple R .217
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