Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Daniel C. Robinson


Student leadership in higher education is an educational and developmental experience for students. More information about the characteristics and experiences of women student leaders should assist student affairs professionals and faculty in maximizing educational opportunity for female students;This study examined the characteristics of women student presidents of campus-wide, coeducational student organizations at three large institutions of higher education in the midwest;Qualitative research was used in the study, with data being gathered during in depth, semi-structured interviews with 15 respondents at the three institutions. The study found that (a) families were very influential in the lives of these young women, especially strong women role models, (b) most of the women were comfortable dealing with conflict and competition and showed no evidence that they were afraid of success or achievement, (c) the study did not reveal negative experiences as a result of their gender or being leaders at large coeducational institutions, (d) the women learned to be leaders from observing others and by practicing leadership, (e) the students concluded they learned a variety of skills and knowledge as a result of their leadership experience, (f) the importance of peer relationships and interaction with others was supported, (g) students who are engaged in leadership activities outside the classroom tend to be high achievers, and may constitute a student subculture, (h) the importance of the advisor to student leaders was confirmed, (i) gender was an issue for the respondents, not in terms of how they behaved as leaders but how others perceived them, (j) students of color were more likely to be hurt and discouraged by racial issues on their campuses, were likely to be asked to participate in more committees and other activities because of their race, and dealt with others' perceptions of them based on racial stereotypes and preconceived ideas, (k) leadership style and stage s of leadership development may be related to cognitive processes, and (l) the respondents' ideas about leadership were closely tied to relationships with the members of the organization.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Cecelia Renée Romano



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

342 pages