Yes, Tobi, there do seem to be a number of differences in the
leadership styles of men and women. While I did not find any papers
which denied the possibility of a built-in biological difference, most
of the available research points in the direction of social and
cultural reasons for this difference in leadership styles.
The website http://www.top-education.com/management/Leadershipgender.asp
summarizes the differences as follows:
task oriented team players
The Top Education web site mentions a NorthWestern professor by the
name of Alice Eagley who specializes in the subject of gender
differences. Her web site is at
http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/people/eagly.html and discusses gender
differences in leadership styles. From the small amount of information
available, Eagley seems to feel that "prejudice toward female leaders
and potential leaders may restrict women's access to top leadership
positions. This bias is manifested when women are perceived as
possessing less leadership ability than equivalent men or when
leadership behavior is evaluated less favorably when it is displayed
by a woman than by a man. The authors find evidence that these
prejudices produce less positive attitudes toward female than male
leaders and make it more difficult for women to become successful
Eagley's site also links to
contains a list of books and papers she has published on the subject.
Based on the titles, some of these may be of interest to you:
Carli, L. L., & Eagly, A. H. (2001). Gender, hierarchy, and
leadership: An introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 629-636.
Eagly, A. H., & Johannesen-Schmidt, M. (2001). The leadership styles
of women and men. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 781-797.
Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (1999). The origins of sex differences in
human behavior: Evolved dispositions versus social roles. American
Psychologist, 54, 408-423.
Based on the title, I would guess that the third work discusses
biological as well as social differences. The second author on that
work is Professor Wendy Wood of Texas A & M University whose web site
is here: http://psychweb.tamu.edu/faculty/faculty/wood.html . While I
could not find this paper on the web, I was able to find a brief
description of it as follows: "Which environment is the most
influential in sex role differences? Convincing evidence that sex
differences in mate selection are best explained by psychological
tendencies stemming from the primeval environment or are generated by
contemporary social structures has not been found. An analysis of the
two theories in light of cross-cultural studies of mate selection
shows the powerful influence exercised by current social structures."
The US Coast Guard has an online paper which explains that men's
leadership styles may grow from such childhood "winning" activities as
aggressively playing sports, while women's leadership styles may grow
out of games of doll-playing where no winner or loser exists. The site
is http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-w/g-wt/g-wtl/gender.htm .
Finally, let me point you at two more online papers which discuss
leadership style differences in men and women. One is in Microsoft
Word Doc format, the other in Adobe Acrobat PDF.
"Women do have different leadership styles from men. As Bodyshop
founder Anita Roddick says: 'I run my company according to feminine
principles - principles of caring, making intuitive decisions, not
getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of
your life, not separate from it; putting your labour where your love
is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits;
recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom'.
The problem with actually mapping these differences is that the
successful male managerial stereotype is so strongly embedded in
organisational life that female managers are pressured to conform to
it, thereby confusing research results."
"As was the case in previous overviews, the evidence for sex
differences in leadership behavior is still mixed, yet it is clear
that these sex differences have not vanished. It is argued that sex
differences in leadership styles are differences have not vanished. It
is argued that sex differences in leadership styles are largely a
consequence of the context in which male and female leaders work.
Organizational factors like sex-composition of the immediate working
context and hierarchical level are important moderators of leadership
The following search will uncover many more pages about this
search terms: "leadership" + "styles" + "gender"
I hope this helps you.