Advancing women's careers: A look at mentoring and leadership behaviors

by Kennett, Nalena D. Kerr, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 221 pages; 3542622


The concepts of mentoring, networking, and leadership behaviors have been the subject of much debate when it comes to their importance to senior leadership positions (Broadbridge, 2008; Chen, 2005; Ibarra et al., 2010; Simmons, 2009; Swersky, Gorman, & Reardon, 2007; Vinkenburg, van Engen, Eagly, & Johannesen-Schmidt, 2011; Wilkerson's, 2008). This debate points to the lack of women at senior leadership levels, suggesting that women are not given the same promotion opportunities as men, or there would be more women in senior leadership (Catalyst, 2010; Cronin & Fine, 2010; Ibarra et al., 2010; Linehan & Scullion, 2008; Zeilberger, 2003). A comparison was performed to examine if any gender differences could be found between the mentoring and networking opportunities that a sample of male and female senior leaders were given, along with any differences in their leadership behaviors. For this comparison, survey instruments from Dreher and Ash (1990) mentoring survey, and Kouzes and Posner (1987) Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) were used.

This study examined a large aerospace company performing business in an industry known to have a predominately male senior leadership team. Yet when comparing responses from the 205 participants of the executive leadership team to determine if the mentoring variables (Clout of the mentor and Quality of the mentoring relationship) showed any statistical difference between the male and female senior leaders, no statistical relationship was found. Additionally, when comparing the networking portion of the Clout variable to the subject's gender, no statistical difference was found. These comparisons were performed again (Clout, Quality, Networking), but the gender of the subject's mentor (Mentor Gender) was substituted for the Subject's Gender, and still no statistical relationship was found. Further, when Mentor Gender was compared separately to each of the leadership behavior variables (Challenge, Inspire, Enable, Model, Encourage), no statistical relationship was found. However, when Subject Gender was compared separately to each of the leadership behavior variables (Challenge, Inspire, Enable, Model, Encourage), there was a statistically significant difference found for the Challenge and Inspire variables only. These variables showed a p-value of less than 0.05, which means that with a 95% confidence level, the null hypothesis, which states there is no change in the variables, is rejected. The low p-value found in this test could be due to the average female subjects' responses that showed the women felt they performed the leadership behaviors that make up the Challenge and Inspire variables, more frequently than the average male subjects responses.

AdviserGary Robinson
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsWomen's studies; Management; Gender studies
Publication Number3542622

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