Characteristics of leadership style, sex-role, and academic culture of female leaders by institutional type
Joyce, Theresa M
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Recent data indicates that the decade-long plateau of women leading at small to mid-sized institutions is transforming as women leaders are slowly but steadily entering executive positions at larger, more prestigious institutions (Gatteau, 2001). The purpose of this study was to examine whether there were similarities or differences in leadership style, sex-role and academic culture characteristics among executive women leaders at various institutional classifications. Using a cross-sectional research design, female leaders at Doctoral Research Extensive, Master's I, Baccalaureate Liberal Arts, and Associate institutions (Carnegie, 2000) were selected for study and completed survey packets which included a Personal Data Form (PDF), the Leadership Effectiveness and Adaptability Description, Style Inventory (LEAD-Self) (Center for Leadership Studies, 1993), and the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) (1981). Descriptive and inferential analysis were used to determine whether there were any predominant demographic characteristics among these women, and whether these characteristics differed by institutional type. A profile of the typical respondent was determined. Nearly 75% of the participants reported having mentors or role models in their careers, and the majority of them characterized the academic culture on their campus as a Developmental culture.Women at Baccalaureate Liberal Arts institutions were at least five years younger than their counterparts at Doctoral Research Extensive institutions. Analysis of the LEAD-Self and BSRI data indicated no significant differences in leadership style or sex-role characteristics by institutional classification. Most participants employed leadership styles characterized by high relationship behaviors; their predominant sex-role characteristic was Undifferentiated, indicating scores which could not be determined to be more of one characteristic (Masculine, Feminine, or Androgynous) than another. On the academic culture factor, significant differences were found between academic culture characteristics and leadership behaviors by institutional classification. Female leaders at Master's I and Associate institutions were more likely to characterize the culture on their campus as Managerial or Negotiating, and utilized complementary leadership behaviors in response. Institutional control was found to have a significant relationship to academic culture characteristics. Overall, the findings of this study are encouraging and of practical use to women who wish to ascend to greater leadership responsibilities.