Open Journal of Leadership
2012. Vol.1, No.1, 1-4
Published Online March 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1
Gender Differences and Leadership Styles in a Non Secular
Judith Corbett Carter
SEEK Department, Brooklyn College, Ci ty University of New York, New York, USA
Email: jccarte
Received February 2nd, 2012; revised Marc h 7 th, 2012; accepted March 17th, 2012
Women are increasingly taking on the role of religious leaders despite some institutional barriers. Do ef-
fective female clergy lead differently than effective male clergy? The focus of this study was to examine
gender differences in the context of non secular leadership. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire
(MLQ) styles and NEO-Five Factor Inventory (FFI) was used to measure leadership and personal charac-
teristics of female and male pastors. Limited findings indicate that female pastors were higher in Open-
ness and Charisma than male pastors.
Keywords: Gender and Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Pastoral Leaders, Non Secular Leaders
Women are assuming a greater number of leadership roles in
religious organizations and for some “gender equality is becom-
ing the accepted norm” (Fielder, 2010). The number of women
in the pastorate has doubled since the 1990’s along with the
number of female seminarians who pursue ordination (Barna
Study, 2009). However, some church leadership use Timothy
2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority
over a man; she must be silent (NIV)”, as justification for de-
nying women the role of pastoral leader. Paul wrote about
equality in the sight of God in this passage of scripture
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all
of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves
with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free,
male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (NIV, Ga-
latians 3: pp. 26-28).
In addition, several women in leadership are noted in both
Old and New Testament. For example, Deborah, mother of
Israel and national leader, was a prophet and judge who pro-
vided strong leadership (Judges 4 & 5; Belleville, 2000).
Noriko (2000) argued that women not only in the Christian
Church suffer injustice, but “institutionalized religion is inher-
ently and irrecoverably patriarchal and can be detrimental to
women’s attainment of liberation and power” (p. 85). Therefore,
women are denied positions of power in many religious or-
ganizations and in the US 50% of US churches do not grant
women the privilege of ordination (Chaves, 1997). Furt her, those
in ministry are restricted to entry level positions (1997), or
smaller churches if permitted to be head pastor, and have li-
mited appointment opportunities for prestigious assignments
(Sullins, 2000) despite the fact that female clergy are more
highly educated; approximately 77% earn seminary degrees
while only 2/3 of their male counterparts receive degrees (Ba-
rna Study, 2009).
In this article female pastoral leaders who were perceived as
effective by congregants participated in this study along with
male pastoral leaders. Gender differences in personality, trans-
formational, and transactional leadership style in the context of
church leadership was explored.
Gender and Leadership
The perception of effective leadership is influenced by vari-
ables such as race, culture, gender, (Lorber, 1994), however,
race will not be the focus of this paper. Gender is a social con-
struct specifying the socially and culturally prescribed roles that
men and women are to follow (Collins, 1990; Hooks, 2000;
Lorber, 1994; Meade, 1935). It is also one of the ways human
beings organize their lives (Lorber, 1994). According to social
role theory sexual differences are based on a division of labor
between the sexes that fosters the development of gender roles
by which each sex is expected to have characteristics that equip
it for the work roles that are typical for people of this sex
(Eagly & Wood, 1987). In other words, gender roles are rules
about how females and males should behave.
Gender roles are also central to gender centered theory of
leadership which focuses on individual differences. This appro-
ach purports that there are female and male personal character-
istics as they relate to leadership. Eagly, Wood, and Diekman,
(2000) identify gendered attributes as agentic and communal.
Agentic traits such as aggressive, ambitious, dominant, forceful,
independent, daring, self-confident and competitive have been
closely associated with men in leadership (Eagly & Johanne-
sen-Schmidt, 2001). Communal traits such as affectionate, help-
ful, kind, sympathetic, interpersonally sensitive, nuturant, and
gentle have been identified with women in leadership (Eagly &
Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).
In a non secular context Zikmund and Lummis (1998) find-
ings that women pastors were considered more caring, sensitive,
and personable than their male counterparts were similar to
Eagly et al. (2000). In another study, however, findings were
different, female pastors were viewed as more radical, emo-
tionally stable, dominate, expedient, non conforming, and self
assured than male pastors (Musson, 2001).
Early gender centered theorists believed that men and women
possessed personality characteristics that were incongruent with
effective leadership skills (Cheung, 1997; Fagenson, 1990). How-
ever, social role expectations were a more plausible explanation
that accounted for gender differences in most studies (Yukl,
1998). The emphasis on gender differences, some argue, has
been used to exclude women from secular and non secular lead-
ership positions (Cheung, 1997; Stelter, 2002).
Gender and Transformational and
Transactional Leadership Styles
Transformational and transactional behaviors are also associ-
ated with leadership style studies. The transformational (a.k.a.
charismatic) leaders are those who articulate a vision of the
future and share it with peers and followers (Bass, 1998; Burns,
1978; Judge & Bono, 2000; Lowe et al., 1996). The emphasis
of this model is the connection between leader and follower as
it relates to organizational development (Bass, 1985). These
leaders regard leadership as a social process and partnership
(Alimo-Metcalf, 2010). They are also risk takers who attempt
to reshape and create new opportunities for employee involve-
ment (Bass, 1985; Lowe et al., 1996). In addition, they intel-
lectually stimulate followers and pay attention to individual
differences and seek new and creative ways to solve problems.
Transactional leaders tend to operate within an existing sys-
tem by maintaining status quo and avoid taking risks (Bass,
1985; Lowe et al., 1996; Madzar, 2001). An effective transact-
tional leader is able to work in a stable predictable environment
(Lowe et al., 1996) and is good at negotiating deals for com-
pliance and satisfactory performance (Burns, 1978).
Researchers have found that women exhibit more transfor-
mational leadership qualities such as establishing a vision,
finding creative ways of problem solving, and developing fol-
lower’s leadership skills (Bass & Avolio, 1994). In Eagly and
Johannesen-Schmidt (2001) analysis and women and men’s
leadership style they found women rated slightly higher on
three of the transformational leadership scales. Men were found
to be higher in transactional leadership scales.
In terms of church leaders and leadership style, Ukeritis
(1993) found “that church leaders were rated more consistently
as transformational leaders than transactional leaders” (p. 168).
Additionally, they explained this in linking “transformational
leadership qualities such as charisma and intellectual stimula-
tion as consistent with the values of religious life” (p. 168). The
female leaders operated more democratically, collaboratively,
and participatively. In addition, women found innovative ways
to accomplish goals and objectives (Wallace, 1992). Results
showed that women used a collaborative leadership style and
fostered a sense of community.
As the research cited indicates, traits’ impact on the way that
women and men lead is inconclusive. However, in both secular
and non secular leadership style studies women exhibit more
transformational leadership style qualities than men. More em-
pirical evidence is necessary to validate the assumption that
effective female and male clergy lead differently.
Pastors were recruited for the study via referral and online
church directories and they were contacted by telephone, elec-
tronic mail, and mail. Of the full-time pastors who participated
in the study, 13 were female and 80 were male. The mean age
of females was 49 years, and males, 50 years. Pastors submitted
names and contact information of congregants and/or staff
members who could serve as raters. There were a total of 124
raters. Sixty six percent of the raters were female and 34% were
male. The average for the age of participants was 51 years.
The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was used
to measure leadership style. It assesses three dimensions of
transformational leadership style: Charismatic Leadership, In-
dividual Consideration, and Intellectual Stimulation. The MLQ
also assesses transactional leadership style: Contingent Re ward
and Man agement by Exception.
The NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO FFI). Developed by
Costa and McCrae (1992), it is a 60-item questionnaire that op-
erationalizes the five major dimensions of personality seen in
the Five-Factor Model (FFM) (NEO FFI; Costa & McCrae, 1992).
Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Con-
The PLES was designe d by the author. The 23-item pool items
were answered on a five-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).
Descriptive statistics on all variables are presented in Table
1. Participating female and male pastors scored high in extra-
version and agreeableness (T-scores > 55) and average in neu-
roticism, and conscientiousness (T-scores between 45 - 55).
Female pastors scored high in openness (T-scores > 55).
In Table 1, observer rated MLQ transformational leadership
scores (idealized influence attributed, idealized influence be-
havior, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, indi-
vidual consideration) were above normative means for these
scales established by Bass and Avolio (1995). The normative
means for idealized influence attributed, idealized influence
behavior, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and
individual consideration were 2.56, 2.64, 2.64, 2.51, and 2.26
respectively. Observer rated transactional leadership scores
were above the mean in contingent reward and below the mean
in management by exception active and management by excep-
tion passive, as established by Bass and Avolio (1995). The
normative means for contingent reward, management by excep-
tion active, and management by exceptionpassive are 2.20, 1.75,
and 1.11, respectively. In Table 2 Combined observer-rated
transformational idealized influence attributed and behavior,
inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individual
consideration scores revealed positive moderate correlations
with observer ratings in the PLES. Additionally, a positive mo-
derate correlation with contingent reward was also noted.
The purpose of this study was to examine differences in fe-
male and male pastors’ personality and leadership style as it
relates to pastoral leader effectiveness. Female pastors Open-
ness mean scores were slightly higher than male pastors. Indi-
viduals high in Openness are characterized as being more will-
ing to entertain novel ideas and interests and open to new ex-
periences, such as new ideas, emotions, actions, and creative
thought (Callister, 1999). Leaders high in Openness can also be
described as intelligent, original, imaginative, broad interests,
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Table 1.
Means and standard deviations for all variables.
NEO FFI Scoresª Female
M Female
SD Male
M Male
Neuroticism 47.37 10.37 46.888.44
Extraversion 59.24 14.13 59.909.51
Openness 62.34 10.00 50.6210.00
Agreeableness 58.13 7.91 57.739.97
Conscientiousness 51.12 8.25 50.7810.01
MLQ (rater)
Transformational Dim ensions
Idealized Inf luence Attributed 3.60 .41 3.29 .81
Idealized Inf luence Behavior 3.55 .67 3.43 .63
Inspirational Motiva t ion 3.32 .62 3.38 .67
Intellectual Stimula tio n 3.04 .62 2.89 .78
Individual Consideration 3.31 .41 3.14 .76
Transactiona l Dimensions
Contingent Reward 3.19 .79 2.92 .82
Management by Exception
Active .84 .63 1.18 .85
Management by Exception
Passive 1.26 1.29 1.37 .85
PLES 106.9 106.3 6.77 10.56
Note. NEO-FFI= NEO Five Factor Inventory; MLQ = Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire; PLES = Pastoral Leadership Effectiveness Scales; aNEO-FFI
values are T-scores with Mean = 50 and SD = 10 based on normative values
presented by Costa & McCrae (1992). N’s range from 59 to 91.
Table 2.
Correlations for observer ratings on the combined female/male PLES
scores and observer ratings on the MLQ.
MLQ Dimension PLES
Observer Ratings
Idealized Influence-Attrib ut ed .31*
Idealized Influence-Behavior .26*
Inspirationa l M otivation .33**
Intellectual Stimulation .34**
Individual Consideration .45**
Contingent Re ward .37*
Management by Exception Active –.21
Management by Exce p tion Passive –.04
*p < .05; **p < .01, two-tailed. N = 65.
and daring (McCrae & Costa, 1987). In addition, female clergy
high in Openness may be depicted as more forward-thinking
and less resistant to change than their male counterparts. These
clergy may intellectually stimulate their followers by challeng-
ing them to think in new and different ways (Corbett, 2006).
They may also be better at stimulating others intellectually be-
cause they understand and incorp orate others perspectives (Costa
& McCrae, 1988b). Further, these pastors may be viewed as
problem solvers and as people who welcome new opportunities
(Corbett, 2006).
Female and male pastors’ transformational scores were
above the normative mean and female pastors mean MLQ’s
attributed idealized influence scores were also higher than male
pastors, but because of the low N significance could not be de-
termined. However, these limited findings are similar to Eagly
and Johannesen-Schmidt (2001) who reported that females
scored significantly higher on three of the transformational
leadership scales, attributed idealized influence, inspirational
motivation, and individual consideration. Additionally, Bass
and Avolio (1994) found that women were rated higher than
men in idealized influence. According to Jones and Rudd (2008 ),
“Idealized leaders have high moral and ethical values and pro-
vide their followers with a sense of mission” (p. 91). Women
leaders are more likely than men to encourage participation, to
enhance the self-worth of others, and to get followers to trade
off their self-interests for the overall good of the Organization
(Bass & Avolio, 1994).
Due to the low N for females, the scores were combined with
male scores to examine the relationship of leadership style with
effectiveness. All five transformational leadership scales showed
positive and significant correlations with the PLES.
Transformational Leadership qualities such as attributed ide-
alized influence, inspirational motivation, and individual con-
sideration regardless of gender pastoral leaders probably work
best during times of church growth, change or crisis (Nygren &
Ukeritis, 1993).
Leadership researchers have urged managers to adapt more
transformational styles which are considered to be perceived as
more effective and inclusive (Valerio, 2009). This study’s find-
ings conclude that there are no significant differences between
female and male pastoral leaders in personality or leadership
style. More empirical studies are necessary to examine access
and types of leadership positions available to female and male
clergy and how it relates leadership effectiveness.
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