Ms. Kayla Huntley ~ Center for Gender Studies 2010 Conference 
"Themes of Femininity and Power in the Media Portrayal of Women Leaders"
 presented by:
Ms. Kayla Huntley
with  Dr. Hilary Lips
Abstract.   Leadership studies in psychology have typically focused on White American male leadership theories and observations; they seldom distinguish or acknowledge gender and racial difference (Chin, 2008). Yet the results of these studies continue to be “generalized as being universal to both women and men” (p. 701). Even within the psychology of women, studies of women’s leadership across cultures are rare. The fallacy that women do not possess leadership qualities or motivation may hinder the advancement of women by supporting the notion that leading is a “man’s job.”
     Women’s access to and experience of leadership is deeply rooted in national culture. This connection can be seen in the treatment of women leaders by their compatriots and in how they view their own abilities in the context of their upbringing in a particular society. While, realistically, the perceived dichotomy between femininity and leadership does not exist, cultural beliefs about contradictions between what it means to be a leader (often implying the deployment of traits viewed as predominantly masculine) and what it means to be feminine, do.
     This conflict, however, is rather specific to individual cultures; no two cultures have exactly the same ideology of femininity, masculinity, and leadership. Research by Apfelbaum (1993) and Rojahn, Fischer, & Willemsen (1997) indicate that the perception and experience of women leaders can vary dramatically by culture. It is therefore of interest to examine cultural definitions of leadership and femininity and how these definitions interact and conflict in particular societies. In this paper, the perception of women political leaders in the United States, as revealed in media portrayals, is examined in comparison to the perception of women political leaders in other cultures.
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