Guided by the role congruity theory (RCT), this paper examines the mismatch in female-leader role stereotypes and how this mismatch may lead to prejudicial evaluations against female leaders. It also tests how gender equality practices and leadership development programmes (LDPs) may mitigate prejudicial evaluations against female leaders. Following a quantitative approach, this study uses a paired sample t-test and linear approach (i.e. multiple regression) to model the relationships and test the hypotheses formulated. Drawing on a survey of 392 employees working in 4- and 5-star hotels in Jordan, the study shows that employees stereotype successful leaders to be more masculine than feminine while they attribute both feminine and masculine stereotypes to women. There is, thus, an element of congruity in female-leader role stereotypes which reduces prejudicial evaluations against female leaders. Moreover, the results indicate that gender equality practices and LDPs significantly enhance the emergence and effectiveness of women leaders. The importance of this study derives from extending the RCT through a contextual investigation in the hotel sector in Jordan. This was done by considering two additional constructs, i.e. gender equality practices and LDPs that mitigate prejudice against female leaders.