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Sex as a Status Characteristic: The Role of Formal Theory in Developing Leadership Training Strategies AAUW NIE

Hall, Katherine Patterson; Lockheed, Marlaine E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Institute of Education (NIE), Behavior Theories, Expectation, Leadership, Sex Role, Social Behavior, Status


The purpose of this paper is to compare the relative efficacy of sex-role formulations with expectation states theory in explaining the observed differences in the behavior of males and females working together in task groups. Two studies are reported, one in which the subjects were adult teacher trainees and one in which the subjects were high school students. In both studies the subjects were composed into four-person groups of strangers and were requested to work together on a cooperative task; the discussions related to the decisions demanded by the task were recorded on videotape and later coded by trained observers. In the first study, only mixed-gender groups were observed; in the second study, both mixed-gender and single-gender groups were observed. We found that in mixed-gender groups, males were more active and influential than females, but all-male groups were not more active than all-female groups. Furthermore, females who experienced the task in an all-female group prior to experiencing it with males were more active than females who had not had such an experience. We conclude that the pattern of male leadership in mixed-gender groups is not a function of deep-seated socialized behaviors, but rather a function of socially determined and theoretically modifiable expectations about male competence. (36pp.)

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