The Influence Of Gender Leadership Styles Of Teachers On The Professional Choice


The article examines the influence of gender characteristics of a teacher on the choice of a teacher's profession by students of different genders. The explicit and implicit influence of the teacher on the personality and behavior of the student can be considered as leadership. In the context of the teaching profession, consideration of the gender factor is of fundamental importance in connection with mass feminization. The study involved 185 undergraduate students of the Philology faculty of the Smolensk State University, studying in the field of study "Pedagogical education" (16 males and 169 females) to identify the influence of the teacher's gender on the choice of future profession. As research methods, we used a questionnaire to identify explicit aspects of influence and a semantic differential technique to analyze implicit ones. The survey showed that students who are motivated for the teaching profession distinguish such leadership characteristics as the ability to interest, organizational and creative abilities, and the ability of self-development among the significant qualities of a teacher. The semantic differential technique used to evaluate the expression of personal qualities corresponding to different styles of gender leadership in such positions as "I", "Favorite teacher", "Male Teacher", "Female Teacher", etc. As a result, it was found that the professional choice of motivated students of both genders was influenced by a female teacher. At the same time, all the subjects, regardless of gender and motivation, identified the prevailing gender leadership style of a good teacher as androgynous, which combines feminine, masculine and gender-neutral qualities.

Keywords: Gender leadership style, leadership, student, teacher, the professional choice


The teacher's personality has a significant potential to influence the process of socialization of the younger generation. The process of influence is considered in the context of the psychological study of leadership through the mechanism of identification, i.e. "following the behavioral or personal characteristics of another person..., their real reproduction..." (Dubovskaya, & Krichevsky, 2009, p. 242). We consider that the teacher can act as a role model for the student, since the teaching profession, along with the professions of parents, is most familiar to students. In a situation where there is no professionally significant positive role model outside the school, the teacher can play a particularly important role in the process of professional self-determination of students. At the same time, the ideas about the meaning of pedagogical activity are inextricably linked with the personal characteristics of teachers, their style characteristics. But the mechanisms of identification and imitation can only work concerning the teacher, whose professional activity and personality are highly valued by the student (Kremen & Kremen, 2017). At the same time, the holistic nature of such influence involves the analysis of not only professional and individual characteristics of the teacher but also socio-psychological characteristics due to belonging to a social group: for example, ethnicity, age, or gender.

It can be argued that the teaching profession is characterized by gender segregation of horizontal and partially vertical types. The trend of feminization of the teaching profession can be traced all over the World, but in Russia, this process has been stable for many decades and it manifests itself on a much larger scale. Research data show that in China, the share of women in the teaching profession was 57%, in the United States-75%, in Russia-88.2% (Kosaretsky & Frumin, 2019). The main reason for the current situation in our country is the low socio-economic status of the profession, which makes it unattractive for men, who are mainly concentrated in several subject areas of teaching: Vocational Training, Physical Education, and Fundamentals of health and safety, especially in rural schools. Our analysis of the websites of 326 General education organizations in the Smolensk region (secondary and primary schools) also shows a similar picture: from of 8021 school teachers, 7215 (89.95%) are women and only 806 (10.05%) are men. At the same time, the share of men among administrative employees (directors and their deputies) is about 12%, which confirms the trend of vertical gender segregation. Out of the 250 Russian school directors who participated in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) study in 2013, 77.57% are women (Lenskaya & Brun, 2016). The analysis of the website of the Department of Education and Science of Smolensk region also shows similar data: out of 346 schools in the region, 77 are male directors, which is 22.25% of the total number.

According to the Learning portal of UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning (2020), there is a higher percentage of males in leadership and management positions in schools worldwide than in General teaching staff. Females tend to hold leadership positions in primary or small schools, rather than in large secondary or tertiary institutions. The significant preponderance of women in school is a great influence on the choice of the profession of teacher, which is preferred mainly by girls. This lack of female leadership can have detrimental effects on learning equity.

The feminization of the teaching profession is an important factor in the gender socialization of the younger generation: implementing a professional role, the teacher to some extent translates the models of their gender role, while influencing the formation of personal characteristics of students, including professional self-determination.

Ozhigova (2000) emphasizes the existence of a dependence of professional self-actualization of women on traditional concepts of gender role, which leads to the fact that during the professionalization of women in teaching, she seeks primarily to preserve integral interpersonal relationships and focus on caring for others. Our research has shown that the teaching profession clearly shows the features that a woman acquires in the process of gender-role socialization, assimilating the gender identity accepted in society, corresponding primarily to the role of the mother: a tendency to empathy, care, and guardianship, empathy, tolerance, a high level of intuition, pragmatic thinking aimed at solving specific tasks (Kremen, 2002).

Thus, at present, due to a significant gender imbalance of teaching staff, the perception of the teaching profession as predominantly female is steadily preserved in society, which reproduces the gendered nature of its choice by the next generations.

We consider it important to study the influence of teachers on students taking into account the gender characteristics of both groups, by introducing the concept of "gender leadership style of a teacher" - a set of professional behavior models that imply an explicit or hidden impact on students due to the gender characteristics of the teacher.

The study of gender characteristics of the influence of teachers (mainly female) on the choice of the teaching profession by students of different genders will help to determine the possibilities of overcoming the limitations of professional behavior by gender models, the development of new leadership styles that productively affect students regardless of gender.

Problem Statement

The analysis of various aspects of leadership in an educational organization is widely presented in modern foreign publications (Cooper et al., 2016; Day, 2017; Diamond, & Spillane, 2016; Leithwood et al., 2020; Lovett, 2018; Murphy, 2019; Nguyen et al., 2019). This phenomenon is considered mostly in the context of organization management (Hallinger & Walker, 2015; Harris & Jones, 2019; Wenner & Campbell, 2017), but in contrast to leadership as an official (formal) role, leadership is revealed as a psychological process of influence based on values and a formulated vision of the organization's development, leading to changes. Consequently, a leader in an educational organization is seen as a person who shapes the goals, motives, and actions of others (Bush, & Glover, 2003). Studies have shown that school leadership has the second-largest in-school impact on student learning outcomes, behind only classroom teaching (Chapman et al., 2016; VVOB, 2018).

An essential characteristic of leadership is the possession to be grounded in firm personal and professional values. “The primary role of any leader is the unification of people around key values” (p.158), such as respect for individuals, justice and equality, concern for the well-being and comprehensive development of students and teachers, honesty and decency (Wasserberg, 1999).

The introduction of the concept of "leadership" in the scientific analysis of the pedagogical process in Russian research is in its infancy (Bicheva & Filatova, 2017; Gizzatullin, 2016; Krylova, 2018; Sobkin et al., 2016). Rubina (2017) notes that in modern conditions the demands to the teacher as a leader are changing: instead of the role of the carrier and transmitter of knowledge and values current culture, the unshakable authority comes personality, ready to engage in changes of the modern world, to understand the spiritual world of the pupils. The main values of such a teacher-facilitator are self-development and creativity, and not only their own ones but also their students` ones as well.

Among the numerous typologies and models of leadership in education, the transactional/transformational leadership paradigm is gaining popularity in the modern scientific literature. The transactional model of leadership is based on rational interaction, which involves a well-structured business relationship between the leader and followers, regulated by the principle of exchange and a system of rewards or punishments. Transformational leadership is based on personal emotional influence, which is aimed at transforming the motivational and value sphere. In this way, it encourages the growth of individuals and, as a result, the growth of the organization more successfully (Yukl & Lepsinger, 2005). The concept of transformational leadership is essentially close to the pedagogical activity, which explains its wide application in the theoretical and applied sphere of education (Igropulo & Romaeva, 2017). Mitchell (2019) has shown the relationships between transformational leadership, enabling school structure, organizational citizenship and professional teacher behavior.

Research on gender aspects of leadership shows that women are more likely to exhibit traits and behaviors associated with transformational leadership than men (Bendas & Petroushikhina, 2015; Coleman, 2002; Eagly et al., 2003).

In the process of socialization, observing the role models of their gender affects the formation of children's gender identity. The feminization of the teaching profession in Russia and many other, primarily developed countries (US, Canada, Australia, France etc.), raises concerns that boys do not have a representative number of teachers of their gender as role models and, accordingly, there will be no one to serve as models of gender behavior for boys. However, the study (Sokal & Katz, 2008) showed that the very fact of a male presence in the classroom is less important than his professional actions and methods of work.

The gender characteristics of the choice of profession in the process of gender socialization are explained by various theories. Representatives of social role theory argue that the choice of "appropriate" gender role behavior, including ideas about family roles and careers, is influenced by existing social gender expectations in society (Diekman & Goodfriend, 2006), which in turn represent stable stereotypes and can lead to role conflicts when choosing a non-traditional role. However, this theory does not deny the possibility of gradual changes in roles and expectations under the influence of social processes. Social cognitive career theory (Lent et al., 1994) explains professional development through the influence of the social environment and media, as well as personal characteristics and experiences that ensure the achievement of a certain level of self-efficacy and further goal setting in the field of career plans. The formation of leadership behavior has a reinforcing influence on this process. School plays an important role in professional plans and career choices: teachers explicitly or implicitly influence the development of interest in a particular course, contribute to the formation of confidence in their plans, positive or negative expectations of results (Shapiro et al., 2015).

The analysis of the model of a modern teacher from the gender approach shows that strict adherence to gender-role masculine or feminine roles, which have both strengths and weaknesses, impose restrictions on professional activity. The qualities necessary for a teacher to be successful today must be leadership-oriented, which requires a combination of interrelated positive manifestations of masculinity (striving to achieve goals, perseverance, energy, organizational skills, a tendency to lead, etc.) and femininity (sincerity, empathy, emotionality, developed speech, etc.). That is, the gender characteristic of the teacher is considered as androgynous. Teachers of this type, regardless of gender, show behavioral flexibility, motivation to achieve, possess a diverse repertoire of social roles: Manager, organizer of creative affairs, teacher, educator, and mentor (Tukacheva, 2010).

Research Questions

  • Does the gender of a teacher affect the professional self-determination of students of different genders?
  • Which teacher leadership styles, gender-based or gender-neutral, are most attractive to students of different genders?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of gender leadership styles of teachers on the professional choice of future teachers of different genders.

Research Methods

To study the influence of gender characteristics of teachers on the professional choice of students, we used the following methods: a questionnaire and the semantic differential technique. A questionnaire was developed to identify the motivation to choose the pedagogical field of study in the university, the influence of the teacher on this choice, as well as the attitude to school teachers of different genders, and the significant qualities of a professional teacher.

Since the influence of the teacher may be implicit, it was necessary to study the categorical structures of the subjects' consciousness in the sphere of perception of personal and gender characteristics of teachers. For this purpose, a semantic differential matrix was developed, where students were asked to evaluate the expression of qualities on a 5-point scale in seven positions: "I", "Male", "Female", "I am a future professional", "Favorite teacher", "Male Teacher", " Female Teacher", etc. The list of 24 qualities included characteristics that correspond to different styles of gender leadership: masculine (initiative, self-control, demanding, dominant, self-confidence, rationality, rigor, straightforwardness), feminine (attentiveness, trust, sociability, responsiveness, tact, empathy, emotionality, flexibility), gender-neutral (optimism, openness, fairness, sense of humor, erudition, professionalism, responsibility). To process the data obtained, the group-wide matrices for four groups of subjects, separated by motivation and gender, were subjected to factor analysis using the Varimax rotation using the STATISTICA 12.

The study involved 185 of the 1st and 2nd-year undergraduate students of the Philology faculty of the Smolensk State University, studying in the field of study "Pedagogical education". The gender ratio is 169 females and 16 males, respectively 91.35% and 8.65%, which is almost the same as the gender composition of teachers in the school.


The results of the questionnaire were analyzed both as a whole for the entire group and with a comparison of the groups of subjects by gender and attitude to the professional activity of the teacher. When asked what influenced the choice of professional training, the majority of respondents said that they decided on their own – 69.73%; 36.22% noted the influence of other people, while only 10.27% of teachers; another 24.86% indicate as the main reason, such an external factor as chance or circumstances.

If we compare the last two groups as the most and least motivated, 73.69% of respondents from the first group are going to work in their chosen profession, while 73.91% of students from the second group have not yet decided or are not going to. Moreover, 10.87% of respondents from the second group noted that they did not have a favorite teacher at school. Opinions about what a good teacher should be in the first place are very similar: for example, students in both groups often choose the answer "a good teacher should be able to interest in their subject" (68.42% and 67.39%, respectively). However, for low-motivated students, the answer "be able to explain your subject clearly" is more popular (73.91%). For highly motivated students, the response rate for "being an interesting person" is relatively high - 21.05%. Thus, for the first group of students, the teaching profession and its specific representatives have more pronounced leadership characteristics.

Among the qualities that are important for a good teacher, motivated students note organizational skills (78.95%), self-development ability (63.16%), and creativity (52.3%). Unmotivated students are more likely to choose love for children and organizational skills (63.04%), as well as objectivity (50%).

As for the gender factor of the teacher, there is no unambiguous relationship between the gender of the teacher and the students. However, in the group of motivated students (78.95% of females), a female teacher was chosen in 57.89% of cases. In the unmotivated group (93.48% of females), both female (39.13%) and male (28.26%) were selected, or no gender preference was made (32.61%).

For the semantic differential technique, the sample of respondents was divided by gender and level of professional motivation (positive or negative answer to the question “do you plan to continue working in your profession” (see Table 01).

Table 1 - Distribution of respondents into groups based on gender and motivation
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Factor analysis identified 3 factors in each of the four groups. The quantitative and qualitative characteristics of each factor, including the ratio of masculine (m), feminine (f) and gender-neutral (n) qualities and their positive or negative values are presented in table 2 (see Table 02).

Table 2 - A Factor Analysis of Semantic Differential
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Analysis of the content of factors shows that in the minds of subjects of different genders, the position of "favorite teacher" approaches the position of "female teacher". At the same time, the teaching profession itself is not limited to feminine characteristics. Factors that describe teachers include the qualities of all gender groups, which indicates the perception of the image of the "favorite teacher" (female) as androgynous, combining communicative and moral qualities with rigor and demanding.

In the minds of males, gender differences are defined, especially in the motivated group. However, in the same group, there are difficulties in separating gender and professional positions, which may indicate inconsistency in the formation of a professional identity corresponding to one's gender. Male's perception of themselves as future professionals presupposes the development of masculine qualities: the motivated – leadership qualities (self-confidence, dominance, rigor) the unmotivated – rationality and straightforwardness.

The ideas about gender differences among motivated females are consistent and differentiated, but taking into account the androgynous characteristics of the teacher, respondents in this group consider it important to develop such gender-neutral qualities as responsibility, decency, and justice. In the minds of unmotivated females, there is an uncertainty of professional choice, while it should be noted that the positions of "I" and "Teacher" are opposed. Representatives of this group associate professional development with masculine and gender-neutral qualities (rationality, self-control, sense of humor).


According to the surveyed students who chose the teaching profession, a good teacher has such leadership characteristics as the ability to interest, organizational and creative abilities, as well as the ability to self-development.

No influence of the teacher's gender on the choice of the teaching profession was found: students of both sexes chose the teaching profession under the influence of female teachers, but this may present further difficulties for the development of the professional identity of male students.

The prevailing gender leadership style characteristic of the "good teacher" position is androgynous, i.e. it combines masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral traits.

The main differences between male and female students who have chosen the teaching profession are the desire to develop masculine qualities in males and gender-neutral in females.

In our opinion, the study shows two important aspects that require further reflection. On the one hand, the modern teaching profession, despite the mass feminization, develops the most successful combination of feminine, masculine and neutral characteristics in female teachers successful at work, and this combination has a leadership influence on students. On the other hand, it can be assumed that the lack of male role models will hinder the professional development of male students who have chosen the teaching profession.


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Kremen, F., & Kremen, S. (2021). The Influence Of Gender Leadership Styles Of Teachers On The Professional Choice. In A. G. Shirin, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, E. Y. Ignateva, & N. A. Shaydorova (Eds.), Education in a Changing World: Global Challenges and National Priorities, vol 114. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 94-103). European Publisher.