Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Satterfield, James

Committee Member

Havice , Pamela

Committee Member

Warner , Cheryl

Committee Member

Price , Suzanne

Abstract

Traditionally, men have been the main actors and storytellers in the history of formal education. The United States is seeing progress in recruiting women into higher education classrooms, but does this increase in numbers equate to an increase in the understanding of their experiences? Further, are we supporting undergraduate women in their growth as student leaders, both for their benefit on campus and their lives post-graduation? This study begins with a literature review of the history of education in the United States. Gender is reviewed from the perspective of various disciplines to serve as a conceptual basis for understanding undergraduate women, including the disciplines of psychology, communications, business, and education. From there, a review of today's college woman is conducted, including the role of feminism and voice in her experiences.
A review of recent educational literature illustrates a plethora of challenges unique to women in higher education. What are missing, however, are the voices of these women. Instead, we are left with mostly quantitative data to tell the stories of women's challenges. The purpose of this study was to expand on this quantitative data to better understand women's perceptions of experiences as undergraduate students in higher education. Focus groups were used to collect the voices of undergraduate women at a public Southeastern institution to piece together the phenomenon of student leadership development within this population. The assumption was made that these experiences have not been adequately sought and heard in education, and that voice implies more than simple vocalizations. Insights from this research hold potential for increasing women's regular use of their voices and for impacting campus leadership education practices.

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