The Role of Biological Sex in Student Evaluation of
Influential Educators Transformational Leadership,
Emotional Intelligence, and Charisma.
Katie Buntrock, Zachary Gurholt, James Halverson, Paige Kuepers, Anna Lehman & Mariah Wild | Department of Communications
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Martha Fay
Prior research shows a positive correlation between emotional intelligence (EI) and
transformational leadership (TL) (Duckett & Macfarlane, 2003) and TL and charisma
(Prati, Douglas, Ferris, Ammeter & Buckley, 2003). TL has also been positively
correlated with women (Stempel, Rigotti & Mohr, 2015). However, studies have shown
that the relationships vary based on sex of the rater. Student perceptions of professors
of the same sex have been shown to be more favorable (Levine, Muenchen, & Brooks,
2010). Social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) would suggest that people choose to
identify with leaders of the same sex, however it also says that people may identify
with a primary caregiver, regardless of gender. This study tests previous findings on
variables in perceptions based on sex and examines the role that TL, EI and charisma
play in relationships. Results of this study will increase understanding of the role that
sex of raters and leaders play in perceptions of leaders TL, EI, and charisma.
Transformational leadership has been seen as the most effective style of leadership
in many studies, because it focuses on how leaders transform their followers.
The leader-follower aspect is critical because the better a leader communicates and
the more transformational the leader is, the more the follower will respond in an
organizational setting, allowing the follower able to thrive in various settings (Duta,
Women employ transformational leadership more often than men (Kark, Shamir,
Transformational Leadership: 15 questions from Conger-Kanungo (1998) Leadership
Scale (CKS) was used to assess the level of Transformational Leadership (TL) the
participants perceived that their influential educators had. The scale was reliable,
=.88, M=4.38, SD=.88.
Sample Item: The Educator I am thinking of uses non-traditional teaching methods
to reach the learning outcomes of the classroom.
Emotional Intelligence: Participants perceptions of educator emotional intelligence
was assessed using ten questions from the Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale
(1998). The scale was reliable, =.83, M=4.17, SD=.92.
Sample Item: The Educator knows what other people are feeling just by looking at
Charisma: Charisma was assessed using nine specific questions pulled from the
Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) (1989) regarding charisma assessment
used in transformational leadership. The scale was reliable, =.82, M=4.56, SD=.69.
RQ3: Is sex of the most influential caregiver associated with sex of the most
A Pearson Correlation showed no significant association.
Based on our findings for our first research question, we found that the sex of the
student was associated with the perception of their chosen teachers
transformational leadership, emotional intelligence and charisma. It was found that
female participants rated all professors higher in transformational leadership,
emotional intelligence, and charisma over male participants. This may tell us that
female students see professors as more influential than male students. This means
that students rate different professors, or leaders, differently based on their own
sex. Previous research examines the sex of the leader much more often than the sex
of the follower, but it could be that the sex of the follower and their perceptions of
the leader are much more important.
Emotional intelligence reflects the ability to read and understand others in social
contexts, detect emotional reactions, and hold the power to influence others (Prati,
Douglas, Ferris, Ammeter & Buckley, 2003).
Leaders who have a higher rate of emotional intelligence are perceived to have a
higher level of job effectiveness by their subordinates (Palmer, Walls, Burgess &
Emotionally intelligent individuals exhibit more team qualities and it has been
shown that emotional intelligence in particular is essential to effective team
interaction and productivity (Prati, 2003).
Our second and third research questions examined possible relationships between
the sex of the student, the sex of their primary caregiver, and their perceptions of
their chosen influential educator. According to Social Learning Theory (Bandura,
1977), students may be more likely to choose an influential professor based on
qualities learned from a primary caregiver. Our findings, however, show that not
only does the sex of the primary caregiver have no association with students
perceptions of professors, but sex of student also had no correlation with the sex of
the professor they chose as influential. This shows that while we mirror people we
find influential (according to Social Learning Theory), sex may play a much smaller
role than previously thought.
Transformational leadership and charismatic traits lead students to foster a
positive and trusting relationship with teachers (Bolkan & Goodboy, 2011).
Teachers who are able to use their charismatic dimensions who have been
shown to help their students learn in a productive and positive way (Veri,
A Qualtrics Survey was created and distributed to college students or recent graduates
(75 men, 171 women, and one didnt report) who rated an influential educator in their
college careers on multiple scales. Forty-one percent of participants reported their age
between 19 and 21 (n=103), 44% ages 22 through 25 (n=110), 15% reporting 25 years
or over (n=37), and 1% reported below 19 years old (n=2).
Participants were asked to think of an educator who had the most influence on them
during their college education, and answer 34 questions measuring three different
variables: Transformational leadership, charisma, and emotional intelligence. All three
of these variables were measured using three separate scales, each scale measuring
the participants perceptions of their influential educator. The survey also asks
participants to record the biological sex of both themselves and the educator they
chose. The survey included baseline questions regarding participants feelings on
gender roles in their lives up to this point, and general demographic questions.
Because a Pearson Correlation showed no significant association, the test of
moderation was not calculated.
Sample Item: The Educator projects a powerful magnetic presence.
RQ2: Does sex of students primary caregiver moderate the relationship between
student sex and perception of professors:
a. Transformational Leadership
c. Emotional Intelligence
RESEARCH QUESTIONS &
RQ1: Is sex of student associated with the perception of professors
a. Transformational Leadership
c. Emotional Intelligence
Sex of the student was positively correlated with all three variables:
Transformational Leadership (r = .14, p < .05).
Charisma (r = .15, p < .05).
Emotional intelligence (r = .21, p < .05).
An independent samples t-test showed that females rated professors higher on all three
Transformational Leadership [ t(241) = -2.34, p < .05 ]
Emotional Intelligence [ t(244) = -3.49, p < .05 ]
Charisma [ t(244) = -2.67, p < .05 ]
A limitation of this research was the imbalance between sex of participants. It
would be effective for further research to have an equal amount of both sexes
represented. Also, it would benefit future research to explore relationships
between sex, transformational leadership, emotional intelligence, and charisma,
and less on the sex of the primary caregiver unless a stronger correlation was found
given a different audience. Future research could also focus on one professor, and
examine both male and female students perceptions of that professor, rather than
multiple professors, as in our study.
Bandura, Social Learning Theory (1977)
Bolkan & Goodboy, Journal of Classroom Interaction (2011)
Duta, International Communication Association (2005)
Kark, Shamir, Waismel-Manor, The Leadership Quarterly (2012)
Palmer, Walls, Burgess & Stough, Leader and Organization Development Journal (2001)
Prati, The International Journal of Organizational Analysis (2003)
Prati, Douglas, Ferris, Ammeter & Buckley, The International Journal of Organizational Analysis
Veri, Public Relations Review (2014)
We thank the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for supporting this research, and Learning & Technology Services for printing this poster.
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