Women in leadership in health care and education
Doetzel, Nancy Lynn
Master of Arts
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This phenomenological study is an examination of the experiences of eight women from Northwestern Ontario working in leadership positions in health care or education. The data was obtained from two interviews with each participant. The focus of the research is an exploration of the ways in which these women perceive leadership and the development of leadership. An analysis of the data reveals three main common themes: "how a woman becomes a leader", "characteristics of a leader" and "what a leader does". In the interviews, participants revealed how life experience, family influence, mentors and education had influenced the development of their leadership abilities and personality attributes. Participants repeatedly indicated that "caring" is a socially constructed characteristic of leadership. They beheld sensitivity, empathy and nurturing as caring attributes cultivated throughout their lives. Additionally, they regarded communication skills and being responsible as leadership characteristics developed from life experience; and, they claimed that team work is a major element of what a leader does. The social construction of leadership from a woman's perspective is still in a transition process, after having been influenced by sex-role stereotyping for many years. Thus, to better comprehend how women's leadership identity is constructed, a close examination of their perceptions of leadership is required. This study shows how some women perceive their involvement in the evolution of leadership development.