The Impact of Role Model Similarity on Women's Leadership Outcomes

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Virginia Tech

Role models can serve as a means to counteract the prevalent 'Think Leader, Think Male' stereotype. This study was designed to assess the impact of role model similarity on women's leadership self-efficacy, task performance and future leadership behavior, using two conceptualizations of similarity – match with leadership self-concept and attainability of the role model. Additionally, the process by which one's self-perceptions of leadership impact judgments of one's own behavior was also investigated. Participants were presented with a role model vignette in a laboratory setting, following which they complete a leadership task. Results indicated that there were no significant effects of the interaction of the two role model manipulations of various leadership outcomes. However, match of role model with one's self-concept did impact one's leadership self-efficacy. Results also indicated that agentic leader prototypes partially mediated the relation between individuals' self-concept and self-judgments, such that participants whose self-concept matched the role model activated the agentic leader prototype. Overall findings suggest that match with one's self concept plays an important role in role models being perceived as similar to the self, which can have important implications for women's leadership development.

Leadership, Gender, role models, Leadership self-concept, self-perceptions