Author

Amy K. Todd

Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

The Jepson School of Leadership Studies is founded on the principle of providing educuation for and about leadership, with the hope that students will gain the skills necessary to serve society effectively in leadership roles. The internship experience provides the opportunity to integrate classroom learning with practical experience,insuring that prior to completing undergraduate education each student will have the opportunity to actively exercise leadership. In order to most effectively apply knowledge to a practical situation, whether in an internship or post-graduation, each leader must have a comprehensive understanding of the context in which he or she is operating. One who envisions the possibility of exercising leadership in the political realm in the future, for example, should attempt to understand the necessary elements for successful leadership in this context as fully as possible. Thus, when personal questions arose concerning the validity of conclusions from the Jepson internship study of "Women and Leadership in Contemporary Society," the need to answer these questions and gain greater understanding of the impact of gender on my future political possibilities emerged as well.

The conclusions of the independent study cited that the interactive approach modeled by top-level female government officials would soon be perpetuated throughout all levels of government and through society as a whole. Observations and experiences at the state level, particularly in the Virginia General Assembly, ran counter to these positive findings. As a result, the independent study conclusions were analyzed through the perspective of structured interaction analysis, personal observations, and interviews of participants in government at the state level. The findings of recent gender studies were also reviewed in order to bring the independent study conclusions up to date. By reviewing the findings of the independent study, applying these conclusions to political contexts at the state level, and researching further on the perceptions of women in political leadership roles, a deeper analysis of the impact of gender on leadership styles and effectiveness emerged.

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