The study addressed the underrepresentation of women in university leadership by focusing on the middle management role of dean. This research set forth two processes that may affect female and male professors' ambition to become a dean: (a) gender bias whereby stakeholders are more likely to recommend men than women for deanships, and (b) self-selection bias whereby men may find deanships more appealing than women do. A multisource, time-lagged study of 278 professors from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland found that both being recommended by stakeholders for a deanship and finding the position appealing related positively to deanship ambitions for female and male professors. In contrast to the gender bias perspective, female and male professors were equally likely to be recommended for deanships, with recommendations reflecting prior administrative leadership experience. Consistent with the self-selection perspective, female professors' perception of more women among deans and their greater endorsement of communal career goals (e.g., serving the community) related to the appeal of the position, which in turn related to their own ambition to become a dean. In contrast, male professors' endorsement of agentic career goals (e.g., receiving recognition) related to the appeal of deanships, which in turn related to their own ambition to become a dean. Overall, these findings suggest that policies to increase the number of women in university deanships should make salient the presence of other women in these roles and also the potential of these roles to fulfill communal career goals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology