Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Hans Klar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lee D'Andrea, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Dobbins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Clark Lindle, Ph.D.


In this study, I used a qualitative narrative inquiry to examine stories from three individually selected state-level agricultural sector women leaders as they described their career paths to leadership roles. This purpose of the study was to address the problem of a lack of practical understanding of women leaders’ experiences in pursuing, achieving, and keeping leadership roles within the agricultural industry. The existing literature shows that women are less likely to hold an agriculture leadership role in their career. To establish the research question, I used feminist educational theory. This theoretical framework and the associated epistemology of narrative inquiry served to make connections among the participants’ narratives. After collecting data through interviews, I analyzed the data through the lens of associated temporality, sociality, and place in the participants’ narratives. I extracted three distinct themes from my analysis, persistence begets support from male mentors, competence and mentorship trumps peer gender bias, and collaboration with mentors and peers begets success. Whereas the three participants interviewed shared different narratives, all three recognized the experiences of peer bias, having no peers, or needing peer support were cohesive. In my implications, I note that women leadership in the agriculture industry has stagnated and suggest that developing mentoring programs could encourage women to enter and assume leadership roles in this field. My recommendations for future research include evaluating the differences between women’s and men’s leadership experiences in agriculture and discovering the extent to which peer support in leadership leads to effective leadership behaviors.



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