Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Committee Chair/Advisor

Taylor, Mary Anne

Committee Member

Bisson, Jennifer B

Committee Member

Pury, Cindy

Committee Member

Rosopa, Patrick J


Given that women are an underrepresented population in organizational leadership, the purpose of this dissertation was to understand the forces driving college-aged women’s leadership aspirations. Using a two-study design, the current research sought to understand the influence that internal (psychological) and external (social) factors can have on a young woman’s desire to lead. In Study One, which included 228 college-aged female participants, results indicated there was a significant, positive between Core Self Evaluations (CSE) and leadership aspirations and provided partial support for the mediating effects of leadership fit on the CSE-aspiration relationship. Results from Study One failed to support the hypothesized mediating effects of mentor presence on the CSE-leadership aspiration relationship. In addition, results of Study One failed to support CSE as a mediator of the relationship between role model status and leadership aspirations. Thus, Study One supported the importance of CSE in aspirations and suggests that the fit between self-perceived leader traits and stereotypes of a successful leader may also be important in understanding aspirations. Study Two, which only included those participants that indicated they had a mentor within the last 12-months, again supported the relationship between CSE and leadership aspirations, but failed to support the mediating effects of mentor quality on the CSE-aspirations relationship. Overall, results support the influence of internal factors on leadership aspirations, highlight the importance of a woman’s self-identification as a potential leader, and provide insight to help better understand how to best utilize mentoring to increase young women’s desires to reach leadership positions within their careers. A discussion of the results, limitations, and potential future directions for research are also provided.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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