Gay, Straight, or Slightly Bent? The Interaction of Leader Sexual Orientation and Gender on Leadership Evaluations
Author(s)Macoukji, Fred George
Organizational Behavior and Theory
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractAbstract Existing research has shown that gender stereotypes regarding characteristics of men and women influence others' perceptions of their fit with organizational roles, including leadership roles (cf. Eagly & Karau, 2002). However, little research has examined stereotypes regarding other demographic characteristics (e.g., race, sexual orientation) and how they may interact with gender stereotypes to influence leadership evaluations. The current study examined whether leader gender and sexual orientation interact to influence subordinates' evaluations of leader effectiveness, likability, and boss desirability using an experimental design. In addition to examining whether leader gender and sexual orientation interacted to predict leader evaluations, the present study also examined why, or the mechanisms, that underlie these effects. Specifically, the present study evaluated two potential mediators: (1) role incongruity, perceptions that there is a misfit between the characteristics of an individual and the role on communality (or warmth) and agency (or competence) and (2) moral outrage, affective reactions of contempt, anger, and disgust toward individuals and/or groups who violate societal mores. Results indicate that gay and lesbian leaders were perceived to be less agentic and more communal than their heterosexual counterparts, though leader gender and sexual orientation did not interact in predicting perceptions of agency and communality. Furthermore, in the full sample, leader gender and sexual orientation interacted to predict moral outrage. When examining moderated mediation analyses, moral outrage mediated the relationship between leader demographics and evaluations of leader effectiveness (but not leader likability) for gay male leaders. Results from the present study helps to inform researchers and practitioners regarding how and why stereotypes influence others' leadership evaluations and suggest entry points for interventions designed to minimize discrimination against sexual minorities in organizational settings.