Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)
Global Leadership - with a specialization in Corporate and Organizational Management
College of Business and Management
Nearly 30% of all attorneys in the U.S. are women, but only 17% of all partners in major U.S. law firms are women. The disparity in the number of women at the top of the legal profession echoes the shortage of women at the helm of major U.S. corporations. Traditional sex-role stereotypes represent one type of "glass ceiling" barrier and stem from the different behavioral norms assigned to men (agentic) and women (communal) based on relative social status. Women exhibiting nonconforming behavior are less liked than conforming women. Conversely, women exhibiting agentic behaviors such as selfconfidence and assertiveness are seen as more competent than women exhibiting more communal behaviors such as warmth and helpfulness.
A randomly selected sample of 489 female law firm partners and their female subordinates participated in an online survey in this correlational (explanatory) study. Multiple regression analyses tested hypothesized relationships between sociodemographic characteristics, sex-role orientation, attitudes toward women as managers, and evaluations of transformational leadership ability among female law firm partners and their female subordinates using the Sex-Role Egalitarianism Scale (SRES), Women as Managers Scale (WAMS), and Global Transformational Leadership (GTL) scales.
Results of psychometric analyses indicated estimates of reliability and validity related to both the SRES and WAMS were less favorable among this sample than past student samples, but consistent with the field sample used in the GTL scale development. More than 90% of the sample had nontraditional sex-role orientations. Respondents' degree of nontraditional sex-role orientation was an explanatory variable of their WAMS, but not GTL, scores. Respondents' religiosity and political affiliation were explanatory variables of SRES and WAMS. No sociodemographic characteristics were explanatory variables of respondents' GTL scores. However, respondents' WAMS scores were explanatory variables of their GTL scores. Findings indicate socialization has some influence on sex-role orientation and attitudes toward women as managers.
Structural equation modeling in future studies may further clarify relationships in hypothesized models involving sociodemographics, sex-role orientation, attitudes toward women as managers, and evaluations of transformational leadership ability. The generalizability and implications of results from studies measuring perceptions of women's leadership are improved with field, rather than student participants.
Lynch-Walsh, Nathalie, "Sex-role Orientation, Women as Managers and Transformational Leadership Among Female Law Firm Partners and Subordinates" (2006). Graduate-Level Student Theses, Dissertations, and Portfolios. 213.