Gender Differences in Leadership Style Preferences

Author Name ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. October 2023 23-E-073
Research Project Advanced Technology and Democracy: Does new technology help or hurt democracy?
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Do men and women have distinct preferences for leadership styles in the political arena? Existing research in organizational behavior indicates that leadership styles in business settings differ between men and women. Specifically, male leaders tend to adopt a task-oriented approach focused on goal achievement, while female leaders lean toward a relationship-oriented style that emphasizes participatory decision-making. This study examines survey data from Japanese voters and elected officials to investigate whether these gender differences are mirrored in political preferences. The findings reveal that male voters value task-oriented leadership more than female voters, who show a greater preference for relationship-oriented leadership. Interestingly, similar patterns were observed among elected officials. However, when accounting for party affiliation, these gender differences disappeared, suggesting that gender-specific leadership preferences might be closely linked to partisan styles. This could be because political parties aim to attract more female voters by adopting leadership styles that align with the preferences of their female voters.