The belief that women are more emotional than men is one of the strongest gender stereotypes held in Western cultures (Shields, 2002). And yet, gender stereotypes of emotion have received little attention from gender and leadership scholars. In this paper, I review the existing research on gender and emotions and propose that gender stereotypes of emotion present a fundamental barrier to women's ability to ascend to and succeed in leadership roles. I first define the nature of people's gender‐emotion stereotypes and outline why perceptions of emotionality may be particularly detrimental to women when they are in high-status positions in work contexts. I then suggest that gender–emotion stereotypes create two complex minefields that female, but not male, leaders have to navigate in order to be successful: (1) identifying how much emotion should be displayed and (2) identifying what kind of emotions should be displayed. Specifically, female leaders can be penalized for even minor or moderate displays of emotion, especially when the emotion conveys dominance (e.g., anger or pride), but being emotionally unexpressive may also result in penalties because unemotional women are seen as failing to fulfill their warm, communal role as women. I conclude by considering the interactive role of race and ethnicity with regards to gender stereotypes of emotion and proposing avenues for future research.
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