Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
At the conclusion of this research, I have found that male and female leaders in high political positions (such as the head of state party) differ only slightly in their leadership styles. As Sue Wren pointed out, she does not know if the constant company of male leaders has affected her style more than her own personal leanings toward one leadership practice over another. According to research regarding how one's sex affects his/her leadership, it has been found that," ... sex is related to a preference for using a particular style but does not cause a preference for a particular style. The gendering of decision making, therefore, is not a function of one's sex as much as it is a function of cultural roles, expectations, socialization. and stereotypes" (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 76). Her leadership style represents that of a relationship-oriented, transactional leader. She is relationship-oriented in the sense that she has a desire to develop and maintain relationships which will endure more than her two, four, or six years as the State Party Chair of Virginia. However, she also displays a strong sense of transactional leadership. Although I honestly expected to find less transactional leadership in her, such was not the case. Politics is one place for transactional leadership to occur in its pure fashion. There is always a need to trade votes, reach compromises, and work together.
Upon the conclusion of this research, I feel that I have disproved my original hypothesis. At these elite levels of political activity, women differ only minimally from men. The women appear to be more aware of the background differences between themselves and men, yet aside from that added knowledge, there is little noticeable distinction. Both men and women have survived the trials of elections. That in and of itself speaks to the equal ability of men and women.
Also similar between the men and women with whom I spoke is their leadership styles. Despite the fact that I expected to find a more distinct difference between male and female leadership practices in the Party. I did not. Much of this, I believe, is because of the transactional nature of politics, as well as the brevity with which upper party officials are in a particular position of leadership. I suspect that in such environments as politics, more specifically party politics, leadership is both situational and environmental. Nonetheless, I do suspect that there are such cases where a political leader (even for a small, specifically focused organization) is truly transformational. However, the amount time which it takes to fully transform another individual is much greater than the amount of time which any of the people who I interviewed has been in office. I have full faith that the people who are running the Party at this point in time are overqualified to do so. and are taking advantage of the unique qualities which each person brings with them, whether it be gender differences or simply different paths which people took to gee to chis point in a political career.
Musick, Elizabeth, "The equal division rule of the democratic national committee and its effects on female leadership" (1997). Honors Theses. 1191.