How Does Gender Impact Leader Sensemaking in Crisis?

Sharma, V (2022) How Does Gender Impact Leader Sensemaking in Crisis? Dissertation thesis, Indian School of Business.

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While most headlines covering the COVID-19 pandemic focused on the healthcare and
humanitarian crises, some of the conversations also focused on political and corporate
leadership effectiveness. Leaders like Jacinda Ardem and Angela Merkle became role models of
compassionate yet effective leadership. Juxtaposed against the traditional male leaders, female
leaders seem to be better at managing the crisis. Employee satisfaction surveys showed that
female managers were rated more favourably than their male counterparts on supporting their
employees during the pandemic, even at the firm level. Despite the documented preference
for masculine leaders under crisis, is feminine leadership more effective? Our study examines
this question with a sample of senior corporate leaders during the pandemic. The study’s key
finding is that gender role identity matters more than biological sex in how leaders make sense
during and after a crisis. It also shows how leaders of different gender identities behave and
process crises differently. Finally, the study suggests a starting point for organizations to
measure their leaders’ gender role identities to tap into various styles, depending on the crisis.

The difference between sex and gender is well documented but not well understood in
everyday organizational speak. Sex refers to “the binary categories of male and female which
are determined by biological characteristics of individuals, such as their physiological properties
and reproductive apparatus.” Gender is the “psychosocial implications of being male or female,
such as beliefs and expectations of what kind of attitudes, behaviours, values, and interests are
more appropriate for or typical of one sex or another.” The concept of gender role identity is
less understood despite its introduction over fifty years ago by Sandra Bem as the “extent to
which an individual possesses stereotypically masculine or feminine attributes.” Bem states
that role attributes are socially and culturally constructed. They are based on masculine and
feminine ideals and standards. Masculinity and femininity are independent dimensions rather
than opposite ends.

Item Type: Thesis (Dissertation)
Subjects: Leadership
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2023 09:00
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2023 10:24

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