Gender Differences on Leadership Performance
Arias, S. Galera, E. Muñoz, A. García, F. Magarolas, D. Ollé, N. Sáez, J.A. Mera, N. Rovira-Asenjo .
International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3 , 189 -198 (2010).
The educational method known as “Project-Based Learning”, which is applied in the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Enginyeria Química (ETSEQ) of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), provides an appropriate environment for testing current trends concerning leadership in teams. Recent studies have shown that men exercise an autocratic and transactional leadership style focused on results, while women tend to be more democratic and transformational, focusing on social relationships. For these reasons, a team formed by students enrolled for the fourth-year “Project Management in Practice” course (PMP) has carried out a research project into gender differences on leadership, based on the following hypothesis: “women are better leaders and get better results than men”. The sample for the study consisted of 11 fourth-year students from the PMP course acting as team leaders: 6 men and 5 women. Each leader managed a team consisting of between 6 and 10 first-year students. To ascertain whether the hypothesis is true, leadership characteristics have been evaluated using specific questionnaires for leadership style, team climate, cohesion, motivation and organization. All these questionnaires were complemented by observation and subsequent analysis of the team’s weekly meetings. In conclusion, no significant differences have been observed in any of the leadership characteristics analyzed, although women obtained slightly higher scores in some cases. Interestingly, the overall tendency towards directive leadership style, which differs from the results expected, can be interpreted as a consequence of the nature of the engineering degree.