|Abstract. In this research, I will explore an
extension on my research fueled by studies from Apfelbaum (1993) and Rojahn, Fischer, & Willemsen (1997)—which indicate
that the perception and experience of women leaders can vary dramatically by culture—and present more current examples
of the cultural definitions of leadership and femininity. I will also continue to explore how these definitions interact and
conflict in particular societies through their portrayals in different media.
Leadership studies in psychology seldom distinguish or acknowledge gender and racial difference (Chin, 2008), but are
nevertheless “generalized as being universal to both women and men” (p. 701) across cultures. There is a persistently
recurrent fallacy that women do not possess leadership qualities and any hindrance in their advancement is explained away by their
“own lack of motivation” as well as the notion that leading is a “man’s job.”
National culture is one of the primary elucidators for women’s access to and experience of leadership. Logically,
if women are not given adequate access, they cannot adequately find success. A problem that is all too real for many women
across many cultures throughout the world. This connection can also 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. 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 exist.
This conflict, however, is rather specific to individual cultures; no two cultures have exactly the same ideology of femininity,
masculinity, and leadership.