Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications

Major Professor

Carrie Ann Stephens

Committee Members

William E. Hart, Bryan Q. Patterson

Abstract

Understanding one’s own personal journey provides for effective learning, growth, and development of self (Madsen, 2010). Reflection on the influences and experiences of successful women leaders is essential to understanding the factors that have enabled them to obtain and sustain leadership positions in nontraditional career fields. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lives of women deans in agriculture in an attempt to conceptualize the leadership styles they have developed as a result of their positions as deans in a predominantly male field, as well as their upbringing and life experiences. Six women deans of agriculture were interviewed and observed in an attempt to recognize the impact their personal journeys have had in developing their leadership styles and sustaining their leadership role. Reflection on the influences and experiences of the women deans produced five overall conclusions: 1) the women deans were essentially all first-born children; 2) encouragement from parents and mentors as well as spousal support were crucial factors in obtaining and sustaining their role as deans of agriculture; 3) challenges imposed by gender discrimination motivated these ambitious women to achieve their leadership goals; 4) each of the women deans exhibited traits of The Big Five Personality Trait Model such as surgency, conscientiousness, agreeableness, adjustment, and intellectance which correspond to specific characteristics found relevant for leadership emergence, advancement, or effectiveness; and 5) participants lead with a transformational leadership style, an asset which has been valuable to their success as deans.

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