Human Resource Management Review, Volume 29, September 2019,
We focus on how interpersonal characteristics should influence leader support for gender equity in organizations. Recognizing gender disparities in organizations and the “labyrinth” that women face when they advance in their careers (cf. Eagly & Carli, 2007), we develop a model for how interpersonal characteristics of leaders, both men and women, influence power construal and thus their use of empowerment, mentoring, and performance feedback, ultimately affecting career opportunities for women in organizations. The model proposes that leaders who are high on communal goal orientation, a prosocial characteristic, are more likely to construe power through a responsibility lens and behave in ways that ultimately support gender equity in organizations. In contrast, leaders with an exchange goal orientation are more likely to construe power through a freedom lens and behave in ways that are self-serving. Prestige motivation will increase the extent to which leaders, especially those who are communally oriented, share power. Dominance motivation will increase the extent to which leaders, especially those who are exchange oriented, act in self-interest and retain power, ultimately imposing barriers to women's career advancement. Organizations can potentially increase leader power sharing by encouraging and reinforcing leaders' prosocial characteristics of communal orientation and prestige motivation. Implications for research and practice are discussed.