Date of Award

11-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Komarraju, Meera

Second Advisor

Kowalchuk, Rhonda

Third Advisor

Etcheverry, Paul

Abstract

Females face many challenges when filling leadership roles or roles that are seen as stereotypically masculine. Many factors come into play which can impact perceptions of competency of a female leader. In an experimental study of 219 university students, raters were asked to rate a female leader on two competency outcomes, after viewing the female leader engage in a group interaction task. There were eight possible experimental conditions in which the rater was told that the leader was in the ROTC or Nursing program (career orientation), was chosen for the role of leader based on a need to increase diversity in the program or based on her own experience and expertise (rationale for leader selection), and shown either an attractive or unattractive female, based on previous ratings (attractiveness). Participants also rated the leader on agentic and communal traits, as these traits often impact perceptions of females in leadership positions (Rosette & Tost, 2010). The results of MANOVA and regression analyses comparing the competency ratings between these different conditions indicated that the leader that was viewed as more attractive was consistently rated as more competent on the perceptions of competency (POC) outcome measure. Attractive female leaders, regardless of their program affiliation and the reason they were chosen to lead the group, were rated as more competent than leaders who were less attractive, even when shown to equally contribute to the group interaction task. Suggestions are offered for managing this attractiveness bias in the workplace.

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