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Behind the Scenes: Women's Leadership Self-Efficacy

Supporting the Profession Center for Women
December 19, 2018

College Women’s Leadership Self-Efficacy: An Examination through the Framework of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

Blog post by Paige Haber-Curran, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Texas State University

As scholars who have focused much of our work on emotionally intelligent leadership (EIL), we were excited to use the EIL model to expand the research base on college student women’s leadership.  In 2010 three of us (Marcy, Scott, and I) published an article examining gender differences in EIL capacities among college students.  We weren’t entirely surprised to find many differences in the outcomes by gender, with women reporting higher self-assessed scores in many of the EIL capacities.  I focus much of my research on college women’s leadership, and I proposed to our research team the opportunity to dig deeper to expand our understanding college women’s leadership using EIL as the theoretical framework.  I felt strongly that this study should be a study further examining college women as a group- and not in comparison to men.  We chose to develop a deeper understanding of college women in order to better serve the leadership development needs of college women.  We focused specifically on EIL as the framework to explore differences in college women’s self-reported leadership efficacy.  We sought to explore women’s leadership self-efficacy because research consistently shows that college women report lower levels of leadership self-efficacy than college men, and recent leadership scholarship points to the critical role leadership self-efficacy plays in one’s leadership development. At present no additional research exists to better understand college women’s leadership self-efficacy, and thus there is a lack of empirical research that can inform how we may seek to further develop women’s self-efficacy for leadership.  We are excited about this contribution, as it not only starts this conversation through introducing empirical research, but also provides tangible EIL capacities that can be used as curricular topics and outcomes for leadership education addressing college women.     


How women understand and practice leadership is a growing focus in research and in practice. This study was the first of its kind to examine different variables that drive college women’s leadership self-efficacy. The researchers sought to identify which of the 19 capacities of emotionally intelligent leadership (EIL) are significant drivers of college women’s leadership self-efficacy. Four EIL capacities emerged as significant: initiative, facilitating change, developing relationships, and managing conflict. The findings and discussion include specific strategies to support college women’s leadership development and suggest further exploration of gender disparities in college student leadership development.

Read more at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19407882.2018.1441032