Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Second Advisor

Scott Gaier

Third Advisor

Scott Moescherberger


The purpose of this study was to understand what experiences and factors led female student leaders to pursue leadership and to understand whether or not the gender of a mentor or role model of a female student is significant. Six female student leaders were participants and were interviewed using a grounded theory qualitative methodology. Responses were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed to determine the central themes from the interviews. The strongest themes were the identification of organization and relational ability as important leadership traits to the participants, the influence of family and role models, the importance of the mentor, the value of being a mentor to peers, pre-college leadership experiences, self-perception in relation to male leadership, the recognition that males and females are equally adept at mentoring female student leaders, and the importance of balance. Recommendations for practice and future research are also included.