Study: Male Execs More Power Hungry Than Females

May 20, 2003 ( - A new study by a New Jersey organizational consultant found that male corporate leaders were more interested in power and control than their female counterparts while women were more focused on service/generosity and security/well-being.

The study, The Internal “Glass Ceiling,” by the Raritan, New Jersey-based PNA Incorporated, surveyed 364 randomly selected senior corporate managers about how they rated 24 workplace values.

According to the study report, male and female respondents equally rated achievement/success as a workplace value. “One of the claims of those who seek to hold women back from senior positions is that they lack the drive and competitive instincts of men,” the report said. “…our results show no difference at all between the achievement drive of males and females. Women are just as likely to be competitive, hard-working, and determined as the men in this sample.”

The report said there were gender differences in ratings of five of the 24 values. For example, women gave less importance to stimulation (having exciting work) than men, but hit harder than men on security/well-being.

Finally, while neither group gave high ratings to power/authority, women attached much less importance to it than men, the report said. Men gave it about a third the rating directed at achievement; women gave it about 25% the import they awarded the achievement value. Women also were more interested in service/generosity than men while the males hit harder on mastery/control, the study said.

Executive Suite Power

The study detailed what researchers considered the takeaway from the PNA research: women need to better recognize the presence of power in the executive boardroom.

“Everyone who aspires to the most senior positions needs to learn how to survive and prosper in a power culture,” researchers wrote. “Some women do spectacularly well at this; some men are poor at gaining the skills. But so long as they fail to see the importance of giving close attention to how best to operate in power cultures, able people will find themselves blocked from the most senior positions.”

Also, according to the report, respondents as a group gave high marks to:

  • achievement/success
  • personal growth
  • stimulation
  • self-worth
  • learning
  • independence.

Interestingly, given the rampant corporate scandals in recent years, the PNA study found that respondents also gave high ratings to the values of justice, fairness and good order. The survey sample included 136 women and 228 men, according to PNA.