In two studies we investigated the behavioral process through which visible female leader role models empower women in leadership tasks. We proposed that women tend to mimic powerful (open) body postures of successful female role models, thus leading to more empowered behavior and better performance on a challenging leadership task, a process we called empowering mimicry. In Study 1, we experimentally manipulated the body posture of the male and female role models and showed that 86 Swiss college women mimicked the body posture of the female (ingroup) but not the male (outgroup) role model, thus leading to more empowered behavior and better performace on a public speaking task. In Study 2, we investigated the boundary conditions of this process and showed that empowering mimicry does not extend to exposures to non-famous female models among 50 Swiss college women. These findings suggest that nonverbal mimicry is one important mechanism through which female leader role models inspire women performing a challenging leadership task. From a practice perspective, our research underscores the importance of female leaders' visibility because visibility can drive other women's advancement in leadership by affording women the opportunity to mimic and be empowered by successful female role models.
The definitive version is available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-018-0911-y.
Latu, I.M., Mast, M.S., Bombari, D., Lammers, J., Hoyt, C.L. (2018) "Empowering Mimicry: Female Leader Role Models Empower Women in Leadership Tasks Through Body Posture Mimicry." Sex Roles, 1-14. doi:10.1007/s11199-018-0977-y.
Latu, Iona M.; Mast, Marianne Schmid; Bombari, Dario; Lammers, Joris; and Hoyt, Crystal L., "Empowering Mimicry: Female Leader Role Models Empower Women in Leadership Tasks Through Body Posture Mimicry" (2018). Jepson School of Leadership Studies articles, book chapters and other publications. 264.