Posted by: heathernoffsinger | March 24, 2016

Women as leaders!

I came across an article, the link to which is posted below, that talked about leadership qualities that  female leaders possess. In the article researchers from Princeton University created a study deemed The Caliper study.  The study tested different leadership traits between men and women and how women were in fact different from men. Their research resulted in the following findings:

  1. Women leaders are more persuasive than their male counterparts.
  2. When feeling the sting of rejection, women leaders learn from adversity and carry on with an “I’ll show you” attitude.
  3. Women leaders demonstrate an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making.
  4. Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks.

There results were very interesting to me because some of these traits lined up with what we had discussed in class such as women are more team players than men. However, it was interesting to learn that women were more persuasive and especially interesting to learn that women take more risks and ignore the rules. I wonder why this is and how a new study would compare since this one was published in 2005. Have female leaders changed in the past decade in their leadership style and if so how?

Anyway let me know what you guys think and here’s the link t the full article:



  1. I believe there are a couple findings from this study that can be related to class concepts. For example, number 2 reminds me of how women often have to prove themselves more than men to receive equal recognition, and may come to be accustomed to this “providing yourself” idea, whether that is a good or bad thing, and since they do it on a daily basis why not do it in this context? Number 3 finding relates to the cooperation, consultation style that many women utilize as a power with idea instead of a power over.

    As far as the somewhat surprising findings, I have some guesses that may be completely off target, but maybe women are more persuasive because they have to be to get anything done. They have to be persistent and keep pushing their way, and be very clear about what they want, or they may not be respected or get what they want. And this one is very far off, but maybe women are just so fed up with the system and feel as though if they are going to be discriminated against anyway in many leadership positions, they might as well just ignore the rules and take big risks, because what do they have to lose?

  2. I too am surprised by some of the findings that this article mentions. Although we have read and discussed research in class about how some of these ideas are true, I still believe that women are becoming more likely to follow these ideas now and in the years to come. I believe as young women leaders it’s important for us to be encouraging growth and confidence in our women follower’s and even show that it is possible for women to go against the grain and take more risks or be more persuasive. I don’t think that the stereotypes will change until we have women as leaders who are willing to step up and be the change.

  3. I think that persuasiveness would be a really interesting concept to study regarding the differences between gender in leadership.
    Like Abbey, I’m just going to ramble off a few of my ideas pertaining to the idea that women leaders are more persuasive.
    First of all, we have discussed that women are more likely to entertain a conversation than to give a speech. I believe a healthy exchange of ideas could lead to a more understandable and likeable decision. When people feel heard, I believe they are more likely to understand the point of views of others.
    Further, women are seen as more relationship oriented. I wonder if this leads to a amount of trust that is not usually held between a male leader and his followers. I personally believe that we are more likely to be persuaded toward a choice by someone we respect and like.

  4. Maybe women leaders are more persuasive because of their democratic and power with leadership style. Their inclusive team bonding leadership discovered in the study could also be a factor in their persuasiveness. I find it interesting that women are more willing to take risks. Perhaps this is because of their feelings of fraudulence and lack of power, they feel they have less to lose than men and might as well engage in risk taking. However, men’s inflated feelings of confidence and belonging would seem to make them better candidates for risk taking.

  5. Talking about specific leadership qualities in the first place is kind of a sticky subject. It takes us back to behavior and trait approaches to leadership, which have been discredited with time. But, talking about specific leadership qualities of only women leaders is even more perverse. First of all, women and men can have the same leadership qualities….it is not out of the realm of possibility. What qualities someone uses, although yes are sometimes formed and enveloped by societies idea of how a man or woman should act as a leader, it goes deeper than that. Leader qualities are formed by ones ideology of what leadership should look like. Thus, if a woman has strong woman leader role models than they are likely to perform different leader traits than a woman without role models. All of that being said, I don’t disagree that the Caliper study can yield some valuable insights regarding the stereotypical traits used by men and women, but one must remember the traits they found to be consistent with specific genders are just that— stereotypical. For this study to be more accurate and complete I think it would be necessary for a larger sample size to be used and a more longitudinal study because as you suggested, time have changed. We are now in a feminist era where more women are feeling empowered, thus conclusions to this study may differ nowadays. Additionally, I think this article would be better served as an opinion piece because the actual methods for the research aren’t included. Thus, how do we as the readers know that what is reported in the article is relevant and truthful in accordance with the actual study? Just food for thought.

  6. As I read the findings of The Caliper Study, I just thought about myself with each of these situations.

    1. Women leaders are more persuasive than their male counterparts –> I see this in myself when I push people to donate or sign up for events for my sorority. Women are more likely to use a more relatable tactics to get people to support their cause, and I know that I try to be as relatable as possible to those I’m trying to persuade. I always try to adapt myself to be how I think will be best received by the person I’m talking to.
    2. When feeling the sting of rejection, women leaders learn from adversity and carry on with an “I’ll show you” attitude –> Revenge is an ugly thing, but it can be the best motivator. I constantly use an “I’ll show you” attitude to motivate myself to be better and prove to those around me that I can do it. I don’t necessarily think this is a gendered attitude, but I definitely see it in myself and what motivates me.
    3. Women leaders demonstrate an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making –> It has been noted in this course that women are more likely to use a democratic style of leadership, opposed to an authoritative style. I would say that the description given for #3 fits democratic style of leadership. I fit this finding to a tee. I am quite the opposite of authoritative. In fact, I avoid being authoritative, and feel guilty when I have to be authoritative.
    4. Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks –> From what we have discussed in class, I don’t know how true this is. I just think about opting out and women soft-selling their ambition. I think men are more likely to ignore rules and take risks because they do not think they have to play by the rules in order to lead.

    Very interesting to relate these findings to myself as a woman leader, Heather. Thank you!

  7. I think it is very interesting to see that women take more risks! It makes sense, though. If a woman doesn’t take these risks, she may be seen as weak. If a woman leader can prove herself by having a risky decision work out, then maybe she will be taken more seriously by her followers. I think that the persuasion thing makes sense as well. A woman tends to speak more in a way that would have a follower believe that they are coming up with ideas and feeling included as a man may just tell a follower what to do or how to do it. Women are probably more persuasive and able to accomplish more because followers feel more included and accepted by the leader. I think what speaks most to women leaders, however, the is the I’ll show you attitude. If women leaders gave up every time they faced adversity, there would be no women leaders at all. Women have to be able to “show” what they are able to do because it is not inherently believed that they are able to accomplish anything as leaders. This is an interesting study but it definitely has some real world applications.

  8. Well, I am glad it has taken us this long to realize that half the population has a penis and the other half has a vagina. We are different you say? Even our leadership qualities? This is kind of like a really easy question, but I think what is interesting to this group are the answers and details of this study you talk about. Now, you see the first three general points that the article is making and how each of these are some of the more typical characteristics we associate with males. What I want to talk about is this last quality, which may surprise us, but give me a second to explain: We have spent almost an entire semester talking about the barriers and difficulties that women face, but additionally we have discussed many women that have busted down the door. Wait, do I mean that they may have broken some rules, challenged some stereotypes, and maybe even taken some risks with an outfit or something she said. Is it weird to give this quality to women? Is it weird to say that women are risk-takers? But women can handle it, trust me. BOOM!

  9. This was a really surprising article for me, I just wan’t expecting the last one at all. It seemed from previous articles and studies we had read, women don’t take risks. I remember that the articles talked about how one mistake can mark a women and risk hiring other women because of it. Women often just placed into stereotypical categories quickly so going out on a limb is very dangerous. I’m guessing that the context really matters for these kinds of studies. I was just very shocked by that finding as it doesn’t seem to match much of the other findings, but maybe things are changing with this newer research. Thanks for sharing though, it was very interesting to see.

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