Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 47 Issue 7 (July 2017), Pages 353-411

Think manager—think male, think follower—think female: Gender bias in implicit followership theories (pages 377-388)


Because of the overlap between the social roles of women and followers, we predicted that people would show a bias, that is, favor female followers over male followers. To support this hypothesis, we conducted two studies: An explicit test of the bias using a scenario design and an implicit association test (IAT)‐based study. Both studies show that the role of an ideal follower is more strongly associated with the female gender role, which seems to be caused partly by a more communal connotation of the follower role. This effect might contribute to the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions as they are perceived to be an ideal fit for followership positions; but it may also push men away from being followers and into leadership positions.

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