The Influence of Gender Role Norms and Perceptions of Masculinity on Leadership Style Development in College Men Open Access

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between college male leaders and their perceptions of masculinity, gender role norms and their leadership style. This qualitative study utilized a brief questionnaire and semi-structured, one on one interviews with 14 former Interfraternity Council and/or North American Interfraternity Conference fraternity chapter presidents at one of two site institutions near a Mid-Atlantic metropolitan area. Bandura’s (1971) social learning theory was used as a framework in this study. A post-intentional phenomenological approach was used to gather data reflecting the experience of the participants through their term as a fraternity president.Nine themes emerged to answer the two research questions of how perceptions of gender role norms inform leadership styles in college men, including what messages of masculinity and gender role norms college men receive and from where those messages are received, and how leadership styles of college men are reflections of their learned masculinities. The themes identified in this study contributed to four findings. First, authoritarian approaches to leadership hide a lack of confidence in knowledge and abilities of leading a group. The second finding is that in caring for others, participants saw themselves as their organization’s savior. Third, the participants had such difficulty navigating conflicting expectations of gender and unprovoked attacks on campus that they chose to disengage entirely. Finally, participants isolated themselves from their organization in order to maintain moral authority and power over their members.Five recommendations for practice are outlined based on the findings of the study. The first recommendation is to develop materials to help students decide to run for a position and facilitate transition into that decision prior to their fraternity elections. The second recommendation is to provide ongoing training and debriefing for fraternity chapter presidents. Third, it is recommended to incorporate healthy masculinity into new member programming. The fourth recommendation is to encourage and facilitate relationships between chapter presidents. Finally, it is recommended to develop a campus or fraternity Good Samaritan policy.

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