Discussion Questions and Exercises

  1. Why is the scholarly question “Can women lead?” now moot? What are the current research questions being asked? Do you agree with these question changes and why? Give a personal example that you observe that supports your argument.
  2. In what ways are women’s leadership experiences like a labyrinth?
  3. Several metaphors are used in the text to describe women’s experience in leadership: glass ceiling, labyrinth, glass escalator, glass cliff, and jungle gym. Which of these is most fitting in your view? What other metaphors can you propose that describe women’s organizational leadership experience?
  4. Which evidence of the leadership labyrinth is most compelling to you--women’s representation in higher education, business, or politics? Why?
  5. In what ways does the leadership labyrinth apply to other nondominant groups?
  6. Discuss the strengths of the three types of explanations for the gender gap in leadership (human capital, gender differences, and prejudice). What evidence have you observed for each of these explanations? Are there generational differences in how women and men perceive women’s underrepresentation in high-level leadership positions?
  7. Evaluate the arguments for men’s advantages in leadership.
  8. Summarize the empirical research on gender differences in leadership style and effectiveness.
  9. Summarize the motives for removing the barriers in the labyrinth. Do you agree/disagree with this section’s research and argument? Give an example that supports your position.
  10. What does bridging the leadership gap involve? What factors have converged to contribute to leadership effectiveness and the rise of female leaders? Give examples from your own experiences or observations that you feel apply to information/examples given in this section.
  11. Reflect on recent research that men may be advantaged in leadership because “they place more importance on power-related goals, associate power with less negative outcomes, and are more likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancement.” What are some examples of power-related goals? How does having power mitigate negative outcomes?
  12. Define intersectionality. Can you think of leaders with multiple social identities (gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, etc.) who have risen to top positions because of their intersectionality?
  13. Various studies show that working women still do more of the childcare and household chores than men, though they are moving toward parity (Eagly & Carli, 2007). What evidence do you see of either trend in your workplace or campus?
  14. Complete Case Studies 14.1 and 14.2. Answer each of the questions in both case studies and give personal examples of your experience/observations that support your answers.
  15. Complete the gender–leader implicit association test and interpret the results. What was the result on the associations that you made? Give specific examples from your personal experiences to illustrate your beliefs/behaviors consistent with the Trial A and B. Which of these associations/assessments surprised you? Why? Do you agree or disagree that this test is accurate and reflects your gender associations?
  16. Do you agree that understanding research into gender and leadership will help promote more women into the upper echelons of leadership? Why or why not?