The On-Campus Leadership Experiences of Women College Students
The purpose of this dissertation was to understand the experiences of women college students engaged in leadership development opportunities, such as campus student organizations at a four-year public university in South Central Texas. Included in this dissertation were women college student leaders who met the following criteria: a) Latina, African American/Black, or Caucasian/White female undergraduate students; b) who had 60 plus completed credit hours; c) who also had a minimum 2.5 grade point average or higher; d) who were identified as being a member in a registered student organization between fall 2016 to spring 2019; e) who were enrolled full-time. This study was guided by two principal research questions: a) How do participants make meaning of their college leadership experiences? b) How do experiences of women college students shape their understanding of their leadership as it relates to their gender? An interpretive, qualitative case study research design was used through in-depth face-to-face interviews. The theoretical frameworks that guided this dissertation were Komives, Owen, Longerbeam, Mainella, and Osteen (2005) Leadership Identity Development model and feminist approaches to leadership. This dissertation identified four key findings: (a) relational leadership, (b) sense of belonging, (c) the intersection of gender on leadership experiences, and (d) the value of the leadership experiences on leadership identity. Thus, implications for practice from this dissertation encourage student affairs professionals to encourage and support women college students to seek out leadership experiences, serve as role models, provide leadership programs and workshops specifically for women, and emphasize their gained transferable skills into their resumes.