Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Donna K. Brown

Abstract

Working in environments that could be described as task-oriented, certified public accountants (CPAs) are generally considered to be leaders. In 2015, within the United States, fewer than 30% of CPAs were women. Based on the theoretical framework of Eagly and Karau's role congruity theory and Bandura's social learning theory, this survey study sought to understand the relationship between self-rated leadership competency, service time, and gender orientation of female CPAs in leadership positions for 5 years or more, compared to men working in similar positions. A sample of 92 CPAs (46 women, 46 men) completed 2 online surveys, the LPI-Self Leadership Inventory and the Bem Sex Role Inventory, in addition to a demographics profile form. Data were analyzed with independent samples t tests, Pearson correlation coefficients, ANOVA, and stepwise multiple regression. Four hypotheses were tested to answer the research questions regarding the differences between male and female CPAs with respect to leadership competency, gender orientation (masculine, feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated), and a potential increase in masculinity over time to maintain a high level of leadership competency. Results showed no difference in leadership competency between male and female CPAs, but a significant finding showed masculinity orientation was a strong predictor of leadership competency. Positive social change may result if the findings are used by curriculum developers and organizations to promote male-oriented behaviors (e.g., decisiveness, assertiveness, and risk taking) together with traditionally feminine behaviors (e.g., helpfulness, interpersonal sensitivity, and gentleness) for young women who aspire to leadership positions.