Female Leaders in a Male Organisation
An Empirical Analysis of Leader Prototypicality, Power and Gender in the German Police
Female leaders defy not only leader stereotypes, which typically call for powerful “great men”, but they also find themselves at odds with an organisation specific leader prototype. In the case of the
police this prototype should be particularly male and powerful. The present paper explores the impact of gender on the perception of leader prototypicality and power in the police. In a pre-study, we first
question 34 high-ranking police leaders on their views on prototypical leader traits within the police.
Based on these findings, we then compare female and male police officers’ perceptions of prototypical leaders and displayed power. Our data gained from 106 male and 34 female officers indicate that the
main effect of women trusting and endorsing leaders more than their male colleagues is driven by a significant gender difference in the attitudes towards non-prototypical and highly power displaying
leaders. Prototypical and low power leaders were trusted and endorsed equally by both genders. We discuss the implications for aspiring and existing female leaders in a male-dominated domain such as
the police, and highlight leader prototypicality and power as new venues for gender research within organisations.
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