Culture and the Definitions of Leadership and Femininity
 a symposium presentation by:
Kayla Huntley
RU Advisor: Dr. Hilary Lips
Kayla Huntley
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.
Dr. Hilary Lips & Kayla Huntley
Conference 2011        Center Home        Psychology      Sociology