UCL School of Management

27 February 2024

UCL Associate Professor Cydney Dupree's "Words of a Leader" in ASQ

UCL School of Management Associate Professor Cydney Dupree’s research has now been published in prestigious journal Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ). Titled “Words of a Leader: The Importance of Intersectionality for Understanding Women Leaders’ Use of Dominant Language and How Others Receive It,” Cydney’s work provides valuable insights into the complexities of gender and race in leadership communication.

In the realm of leadership, effective communication is often hailed as a critical skill. Yet, for women leaders, the path to success is fraught with challenges, particularly when it comes to navigating societal expectations and stereotypes. Cydney sheds light on this intricate dynamic in her recent publication in ASQ. 

Dupree’s study takes a pioneering step by adopting an intersectional perspective to examine women leaders’ use of dominant language and the reception it receives. Leveraging natural-language processing techniques, Dupree analysed over 250,000 Congressional remarks and nearly one million tweets by leaders. Her findings reveal that women leaders, particularly white women, reference dominance more than their male counterparts, challenging stereotypes depicting women as submissive.

However, the reception of dominant language varies significantly based on racial identity. While white women leaders face minimal backlash for their linguistic assertiveness, black and Latina women encounter heightened scrutiny and criticism. Media portrayals of women leaders who exhibit dominant language often depict them as dominant but cold, especially for black and Latina women. Moreover, constituents tend to rate black women leaders as less likeable when they display dominance in their communication, highlighting the intersecting biases faced by women of colour in leadership roles.

Dupree’s research has profound implications for organisational diversity efforts and scholarly inquiry. It underscores the importance of intersectionality in understanding gender disparities in leadership communication and the nuanced ways in which race intersects with gender stereotypes. The study calls for organisational initiatives that support women leaders, particularly those from marginalised racial backgrounds, and emphasises the need for academics to empirically explore gender-based phenomena among diverse populations.

Moving forward, future research should delve deeper into the psychological mechanisms underlying women leaders’ communication styles and investigate longitudinal effects in diverse cultural contexts. By adopting an intersectional lens, scholars and practitioners can better address the multifaceted challenges faced by women leaders and work towards fostering more inclusive and equitable leadership environments.

Read the full ASQ publication

Last updated Thursday, 7 March 2024