|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.