Thumbnail Image

Implicit and explicit attitudes and beliefs towards male and female leaders in New Zealand organizations

This research aims to present insight into current gender leader beliefs, in New Zealand. In particular the research design supported the inclusion of both implicit and explicit measures of gender leader beliefs, in order to analyse the difference between what we say (explicit) and what we believe (implicit). The study quantified the implicit and explicit beliefs and attitudes towards leaders in New Zealand organizations based on leader gender, in addition to, examining the relationship between the responses to these measures. Furthermore, this study sought to understand how current women leaders influence employee’s implicit gender leader beliefs. That is, it assessed whether organizational factors, such as, direct report’s gender and organizational leadership profile, have the potential to influence implicit gender leader beliefs. To achieve this the study utilised an online version of the Gender Leader Implicit Association Test (GL-IAT) and a series of questionnaires. Participants were recruited from organizations across New Zealand via an online survey sent to a number of organizations including both private and public organizations (e.g., AUT, Bell Gully, Russell McVeagh, Free FM, Bay of Plenty DHB, Hawkes Bay DHB, TompkinsWake, the University of Waikato). 552 valid participants responded (male = 26.4%, female = 73.6%), with the majority working full time (42.2%). Both implicit and explicit measures were subject to SSPS analysis etc. A variation of Implicit Association Test (IAT), the GL-IAT, which measures people’s unconscious beliefs towards males and females as leaders (Dasgupta & Asgari, 2004) was used to assess implicit gender leader beliefs. The IAT records response times pairing target categories (e.g., “Josh” and “Emily”) with attribute labels (e.g., “Leader” and “Supporter”). Faster responses indicate the target category and attribute label are highly implicitly associated, whereas slower responses indicate the target category and attribute label are less implicitly associated (Greenwald, Nosek, & Banaji, 2003). Three surveys that explicitly measure gender equality beliefs and attitudes, the Gender Equality Scale (GEAS) (Houkamau & Boxall, 2011), Women as Managers Scale (WAMS) (Peters, Terborg, & Taynor, 1974), and the Gender Leader Index (GLI) (Rudman & Kilianski, 2000), were used to measure explicit beliefs and attitudes regarding men and women as leaders. The research demonstrated that, despite self-reporting explicitly positive attitudes towards leaders, our implicitly held stereotypes associate men with leaders, more so than women, and women with supporters, more so than men. Surprisingly, female direct reports or saturation of female senior leaders were not found to influence follower’s implicit gender bias, it is likely that the more that females are accepted into leadership roles, the easier it will become for women pursuing and performing leadership roles. The results of this study emphasise, to practitioners, Human Resource (HR) managers and researchers, that the scarcity of women within leadership may be, at least in part, due to implicitly held stereotypes, that disassociate women from leaders, and therefore implicit gender bias needs to be recognised within New Zealand organizations as a real barrier to women’s progression. Efforts to reduce the impact of implicit bias should be undertaken.
Type of thesis
Roopra, T. K. (2017). Implicit and explicit attitudes and beliefs towards male and female leaders in New Zealand organizations (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11178
University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.