|dc.description.abstract||The purpose of this study was to understand how women lead and make meaning of their leadership in evangelical mission organizations. Three research questions guided this study. First, how have these women become leaders and learned to lead? Second, what if any forms of resistance or subversive behavior do they use in order to lead in a patriarchal culture? Third, how do they and the organizations they work in account for their leadership?
Twelve women were purposefully selected for this study. I talked with each one for up to two hours, asking them to describe how they came to lead and to tell me stories of their successes and challenges. I also asked for their thoughts on why they were chosen to lead, and what it was like to be a woman leader in their organizations. After the first round of interviews, I conducted constant comparative analysis and asked for member-check feedback from the participants in a second round of interviews and correspondence.
The first and second rounds of data analysis resulted in three categories of findings. The first finding was that the women, to a large extent, accept and follow evangelical faith’s prescribed gender-roles. The second finding was that they were also able, to some extent, to use or maneuver the gender roles to support their leadership. The third finding was that the organizations as well as the women themselves continue to be quite ambivalent about women’s leadership.
Two conclusions emerged from the themes in this study. First, the power of the system’s structural inequality that favors men is a self-reinforcing system that the women cannot successfully resist. Second, due to their isolation and token status, the women wind up personalizing the problems they encounter. Implications for theory, practice, and further research are discussed in light of the findings and conclusions.||