Female and male perceptions of the successful manager
Novak, Rodney Peter
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The proportion of females occupying managerial positions is low compared to males. There are a variety of reasons for this, one of which may be the different perceptions females may have about the managerial role in terms of the managerial stereotype identified in the literature. This study investigates a subset of these perceptions; specifically, what characteristics are perceived as important for a successful manager to possess. Unlike most studies investigating perceptions, this focuses on the perceptions of students aspiring to be managers, near the beginning of their career preparation, rather than on students farther along in the process, or on practicing managers. This study first had undergraduate business students list the characteristics which they thought were important for a successful manager to possess. Then another sample, consisting of 167 female and 216 male students, rated each of the characteristics as to how important they were for a successful manager to possess, A 5-point rating scale was used, ranging from extremely important to barely important. The perceptions of females and males were factor analyzed and compared to see if differences existed. The results indicated that females identified some factors similarly to males, some differently, and others they did not identify at all. The factors identified by the females included: competent, appearance, affiliation, keen, credentials, repute, and autocrat. The factors identified by the males included: affiliation, entrepreneur, motivated, appearance, strict, credentials, dominance, benevolent autocrat, inventive, and practical. Even though all of the factors identified by the females were included in the managerial stereotype, these factors only constituted a subset of the total stereotype. The males appeared to identify basically the same factors as the females*, however, the males identified three additional factors—they identified a larger subset than the females. It was concluded that females and males perceived differently the characteristics important for a successful manager to possess, with males identifying a more encompassing description. It is believed that as long as males prevail in managerial positions, females may have to adopt the managerial stereotype identified by the males, until such time as the number of females in management ranks are equal to the number of males.