Race matters for women leaders: Intersectional effects on agentic deficiencies and penalties

This is a member only resource

Become a Member » Log In »
Race matters for women leaders: Intersectional effects on agentic deficiencies and penalties
The Leadership Quarterly

A significant amount of the research on two types of biases against women leaders—agentic deficiency (perceptions that women have minimal leadership potential) and agentic penalty (backlash for counter-stereotypical behavior)—has generally presumed that the descriptive, prescriptive, and proscriptive stereotypes on which the biases are based are comparable for women across racial groups. We propose that the degree to which agentic deficiencies and penalties occur is contingent on the dimension of agency that is under consideration and its relation to the stereotypes associated with the target's gendered and racial group. The results of our literature review and analysis suggest that when considered in the context of gender and leadership research, at least two dimensions of agency, competence and dominance, closely align with perceptions of agentic deficiency and agentic penalty, respectively. Based on our analysis and the prevalent stereotypes of Black and Asian American women that are likely most relevant to the two types of biases against women leaders, we examined the interactive effects of racial stereotypes and the agentic biases. We suggest that when specific racial and gendered stereotypes are aligned with a specific dimension of agency, we can gain a more thorough understanding of how agentic biases may hinder women's progression to leadership positions.

The Leadership Quarterly, Volume 27, Issue 3, June 2016, Pages 429–445

Become a Member

The IOC is a global community of coaches.


Contact Us

  • Institute of Coaching
  • McLean Hospital
  • 115 Mill Street, Mail Stop 314
  • Belmont, MA 02478
  • Phone: 617-767-2670
  • info@instituteofcoaching.org