Role congruity theory predicts prejudice towards women who meet the agentic requirements of the leader role. In line with recent findings indicating greater acceptance of agentic behaviour from women, we find evidence for a more subtle form of prejudice towards women who fail to display agency in leader roles. Using a classic methodology, the agency of male and female leaders was manipulated using assertive or tentative speech, presented through written (Study 1, N = 167) or verbal (Study 2, N = 66) communications. Consistent with predictions, assertive women were as likeable and influential as assertive men, while being tentative in leadership reduced the likeability and influence of women, but not of men. Although approval of agentic behaviour from women in leadership reflects progress, evidence that women are quickly singled out for disapproval if they fail to show agency is important for understanding how they continue to be at a distinct disadvantage to men in leader roles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology