Breaking Gender Barriers: Exploring Communication and Leadership Styles in UCLA Undergraduates

Rita Chen, Jeannine Xu, Sydney Shi

The study aimed to investigate the differences in leadership styles between male and female undergraduate students in group discussions. Previous research had shown that men are often perceived as more dominant and directive, while women prioritize building connections and understanding. The study focused on an academic setting, with researchers observing 36 UCLA undergraduate students discussing a topic for 10 minutes. Observations were made of both verbal and gestural communication features of each individual, and an observational checklist was used to categorize behaviors into six main traits of authoritative or collaborative leadership style. Results supported the hypothesis that male students displayed more authoritative traits, such as confidence and dominance, while female students displayed more collaborative traits, such as empathy and supportiveness. Interestingly, female participants also displayed the authoritative trait of “clarity” more than their male counterparts. The findings of this study suggest that traditional gender roles continue to influence communication patterns and highlight the importance of advocating for a more inclusive society where all genders have equal opportunities to succeed in leadership roles.

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