Date of Defense




First Advisor

Keith M. Hearit, Communication

Second Advisor

Shirley Van Hoeven, Communication

Third Advisor

Peter Northouse, Communication


Today, discrimination remains one of the top most powerful forces that prevent women from progressing to the top management ranks. Although sex-discrimination is illegal, executives continue to practice it in subtle ways. This type of discrimination is referred to as institutional discrimination, a form that exists within the systems and cultures of companies (Larwood, Gutek & Gattiker, 1984).

This paper argues that female leadership traits are valuable in the operation of an organization. Women and their styles of leadership, which do differ from those of men, traditionally have been devalued. Differences in the ways men and women communicate must be recognized for companies to take full advantage of the strengths of feminine leadership.

This paper compares and contrasts male and female leadership styles. It is not the intention of this paper to claim that women are better leaders, but simply to examine how women contribute insight to an organization as leaders. A feminist viewpoint asserts that the socialization of gender leads people to approach and deal with problems differently. The issue of gender is of importance because women traditionally have been left out of research in the three areas of management, leadership, and communication. Female leadership will become a resource needed to help propel companies into the 21st century.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only