The Perceptions of Race and Gender and its Effect on a Leader’s Favorability

Sasha Pierre-Louis


This experiment aimed to find out how race and gender (Black, White, male, female) could affect perceptions of leadership favorability. Previous research showed that White male leaders are considered more favorable in leadership positions than White female and Black leaders. This is related to stereotypical characteristics of White women and Black men that are perceived to be inconsistent with those of prototypical leaders (White men). Although Black women do not fit into the leader prototype of being White or a male, I hypothesized that White men and Black women would receive comparably higher evaluations in comparison to White women and Black men in post evaluations. Past research has also shown how these negative stereotypes and perceptions may affect minorities’ ability to gain positions of leadership. I also considered the influence of legitimate power (i.e. determining perceptions of leaders from different social groups). I anticipated that the effect of a leader’s gender and race on ratings of leader performance and interpersonal ratings would be buffered when their position was legitimized. Participants completed the Lost at Sea Survival Task and Moon Survival Task. They also completed the Modern Sexism, Modern Racism/Social Dominance, and Leader Evaluations measures that asked about their thoughts of race, gender and the leadership ability of a leader. The result of this study did not reveal any significant results that support our hypotheses; we offer possible explanations and limitations of the study.



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