Gender and the Emergence of Leaders: A Meta-Analysis

Alice H. Eagly*, Steven J. Karau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

538 Scopus citations


In this article, research is reviewed on the emergence of male and female leaders in initially leaderless groups. In these laboratory and field studies, men emerged as leaders to a greater extent than did women. Male leadership was particularly likely in short-term groups and in groups carrying out tasks that did not require complex social interaction. In contrast, women emerged as social leaders slightly more than did men. These and other findings were interpreted in terms of gender role theory, which maintains that societal gender roles influence group behavior. According to this theory, sex differences in emergent leadership are due primarily to role-induced tendencies for men to specialize more than women in behaviors strictly oriented to their group's task and for women to specialize more than men in socially facilitative behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-710
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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