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Gender differences in leadership styles.

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Gender is perhaps the most significant social category in human society. According to Maccoby and Jacklin (1974), the influence of gender is apparent in all known languages, past and present, and serves to distinguish the role differences in society. Gender may be seen as the primary basis for human differentiation and serves as a powerful incentive for this study. The study was conducted at the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) to gain a better understanding of the differences in leadership styles and the significant role that gender plays in leadership. The aim of the study was to highlight gender differences in leadership styles, gender discrimination, the break in the ‘glass ceiling’ and the stereotyping of male and female leaders. The objective of this study was to determine if there were any differences in leadership styles based on demographics, perceptions and past research. The questionnaire was designed around the objectives of the study. Participants were invited to participate in a web based survey using the on-line software programme QuestionPro. The University of Kwazulu-Natal employs 4361 staff. In terms of a number of sample size tables, 384 is the recommended minimum sample size. Links to the online questionnaires were sent to all employees however, only 64 people responded even after numerous attempts were made to increase the sample. The findings revealed that 64.4% of respondents preferred to be led by a male leader and 35.6% of respondents preferred to be led by a female leader. In contrast, 67.31% of respondents disagreed that they respond more positively to male leaders and 17.13% strongly disagreed. A salient feature of this study is that, while participants still prefer to be led by a male leader, the majority of the participants felt that there was no difference in the leadership styles of men and women and that the gender of their manager did not impact on their work performance. The study can be of benefit to anyone that is currently in a leadership role or someone that is has been identified by the organisation to be placed in a leadership role in the future. It is also of great value and benefit to women in leadership roles as this study addresses gender discrimination and the obstacles that women face in the workforce.


Thesis (MBA)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, 2011.


Sex discrimination in higher education--KwaZulu-Natal., Sex discrimination in employment--KwaZulu-Natal., Leadership., Theses--Business administration.