Women in Positions of Leadership and Gender-Specific Emotional Intelligence Attributes

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Helena Monahan


Francis Boakari


John Velasquez


The purpose of this quantitative research study devoted to researching women executives, was to take Goleman’s EQ leadership theory and Bar-On’s gender-related emotional intelligence research to another level by specifically focusing on the possible relationships between women in positions of leadership and gender-specific emotional intelligence attributes. Previous studies by Goleman (1998, 2000, 2004) and Bar-On and Handley (1999) explored emotional intelligence (EQ) as it relates to leadership development and success in organizations. EQ has gained acceptance and validity in describing leadership styles and capabilities, and women are recognized as being equally as emotionally intelligent as men. The research was question: is there a relationship between what has been defined as gender-specific EQ attributes and women who hold positions o f leadership? Bar-On’s EQ-i self-report instrument was used for EQ assessment of the 114 participants to explore the research question: is there a relationship between what has been defined as gender specific EQ attributes and women who hold positions of leadership? Findings confirm that EQ differences exist between age groups, which are consistent with Bar-On’s (1999) model. However, unlike Bar-On’s (1999) model which indicated that EQ improves with maturity to the age o f 50, but may decline thereafter, this study found that EQ continued to improve in those participants over the age of 50, as those in the oldest age group, 61-74, obtained the highest EQ scores. Additionally, participants in the youngest age group had scores that generally supported Bar-On’s (1999) premise that such individuals would in fact have EQ strengths in those attributes identified as female gender-specific, i.e., empathy and social responsibility. Similarly, these participants scored low on the male gender-specific attributes of stress tolerance, self confidence, and adaptability. Significantly although with variances, however, the female executives in the 29-40, 41- 50, 51-60, and 61-74 age groups self reported strengths in all o f the attributes identified as crucial areas o f EQ for leaders.

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