AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF SEX ROLE IDENTITY ON THE EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE OF SALESWOMEN
Bowers Comer, Lucette
Jolson, Marvin A.
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Because of an increasing shortage of qualified salespersonnel, recruiters for sales positions are very receptive to female applicants. Despite this, sex-discrimination is still detectable in the market place. Some sales managers resist bringing women into male-oriented areas of selling, criticizing them for alleged weaknesses. Their criticisms stem from the belief that saleswomen will behave according to gender stereotypes on the job and that this behavior will impact negatively on selling performance. Sales managers need assurance that the saleswomen they hire will perform well on the job. This research investigated the usefulness of the concept of "sex role identity" as a basis for segmenting the pool of female applicants by their potential for effective performance. A survey was conducted of sales managers in three traditionally male areas of selling, who described saleswomen under their supervision. The relationships between sales managers' perceptions of gender stereotypic behavior, selling effectiveness, and sex role identity were examined. Saleswomen' s gender stereotypic behavior was defined as perceived weaknesses in three areas: "selling ability," "human relations," and "motivation." Selling effectiveness was measured as perceived proficiency in performance of six functions of selling and non-selling activities. Saleswomen were classified into sex role types on the basis of their sales managers' perceptions of their masculine ("instrumental") and feminine ("expressive") traits in their sex role identities on the Bem Sex Role Inventory. Seven research hypotheses were tested using univariate and multivariate analysis of variance and correlational analyses. The results showed that sales managers perceived some gender stereotypic behavior in the marketplace and that some of this behavior was associated with reduced selling effectiveness. Sex role types of saleswomen related to both perceived gender stereotypic behavior and selling effectiveness. Androgynous and masculine saleswomen were perceived 'as being the least stereotyped and the most effective performers. The findings give partial support for a two-dimensional model of selling effectiveness defined by masculine "instrumentality" and feminine "expressiveness." The results have implications for the selection, training , and supervision of saleswomen.