Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Lyndsay Agans, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Frank Tuitt

Third Advisor

Christina Linder


Critical discourse analysis, Gender, Leadership, Performance, Power, Race


The number of females in senior level leadership positions in higher education is substantially fewer than males. Yet female students in these same institutions represent over half the population (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2010). The leadership gender gap is a phenomenon that has undergone numerous studies in search of reasons and solutions. Yet the gap remains. One cause of the underrepresentation of women in higher education leadership is ideological views regarding gender and leadership that result in stereotypes regarding who qualifies for leadership, what leadership behaviors are deemed best, who exhibits those behaviors, and what happens when those stereotypes are disrupted (Eagly & Karau, 2002).

In higher education leadership classrooms, students read and discuss texts on leadership theory. The leadership texts used in leadership courses in higher education programs produce discourses that influence the way students view women in leadership and the way women view themselves as leaders (Basow, 2004). Additionally, the discourses create relationships of power which serves to maintain the status quo and support male dominance (Wodak, 2001). These forces contribute to the leadership gender gap by creating relationships between the discursive message and the students, reinforcing the social issue of female under-representation.

This study uses a feminist discourse analysis method to analyze four discourses in a commonly used leadership course text. By examining the discourses of gender, race, performance, and power, I locate the messages that work to sustain the power, control, and male dominance in senior level leadership positions in higher education and within the leadership classroom.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Susan A. Griggs


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

208 p.


Higher education administration