Dissertation Abstract

The Effect of Biological Gender and Gender-Dominated Occupations on the Perceived Sex-Role Identities of Managers.

Publication Number:  AI9960969
Author:  Sperling, Linda
School:  University of La Verne
Date:  1999
Pages:  120
Subject:  Management, Gender

Purpose. The masculine sex-role stereotype has been considered the most prominent sex-role identity among managers for numerous years. This stereotype includes characteristics such as aggressive, independent, and risk-taking while the feminine sex-role stereotype includes the characteristics of compassionate, nurturing, and supportive. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of biological gender and gender-dominated occupation on the sex-role identities of managers. The reason for this was to determine if the masculine sex-role identity remained dominant when additional factors were measured and accounted for and to offer possible explanations regarding the reason(s) for this dominance by exploring the roles of affect and cognition.

Methodology. This study analyzed the perceptions of one hundred and nine undergraduate students who were administered a series of instruments in order to examine the sex-role identities of males and females in male-dominated and female-dominated occupations. The Short Bem Sex-Role Inventory and the managerial scenario assessment were used for this purpose.

It was hypothesized that there would be an interaction between biological gender and gender-dominated occupations such that male managers in male-dominated occupations would exhibit a significantly higher degree of masculine characteristics than any other groups of participants. Additionally, it was hypothesized that female managers in female-dominated occupations would exhibit a significantly higher degree of feminine characteristics than any other groups of participants.

Findings. The findings of this study were that the gender-dominance of an occupation appeared to have a significant effect on the sex-role identity of managers based on the results of the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI). That is, participants receiving the engineering occupational description perceived the managers as having a significantly higher masculine sex-role identity than those receiving the nursing manager occupational description.

Conclusions and recommendations. This research implies that the gender-dominance of an occupation has an impact on the degree of masculine characteristics a manager exhibits. In addition, it appears that biological gender does not play a significant role.

In order to further this research it might be beneficial to repeat this study and include non-managerial descriptions in addition to the managerial descriptions. Also, an interesting study to emanate from this would be an exploration into the different roles and responsibilities of both engineering and nursing managers.

Information on sex-role identities can be useful to managers, subordinates, and co-workers. Being able to identify others' sex-role identity and to learn to effectively deal with those who are different would benefit all involved. Since current literature reveals that organizations are becoming more transformational, a blending of masculine and feminine characteristics is required in order for managers to be effective in transformational organizations.

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