Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol. 2, No. 4-October 2004 ISSN: 1541-6224


©2003 Pro>Active Publications


Leadership was characterized as patriarchal and hierarchical during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Pioneer women were often not credited with leadership qualities although many, including school teachers, journalists, suffragettes, healthcare workers, and social activists played an important role in the development of Manitoba communities. This study hypothesized that women were engaged in unrecognized leadership strategies within that contemporary culture. This research explored whether three particular Manitoba pioneer women, Margaret Scott (1855-1931), Margret Benedictsson (1866- 1956), and Jessie McDermott (1870-1950), did, in fact, practice a form of leadership. This leadership form was identified as servant leadership and defined by Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990) in his seminal work, Servant as Leader (197011991b). Areas of investigation included leadership theory; Manitoba history, and the role of women during the time period that was common to their lives, 1870-1930. Qualitative historical analysis methodology was used to examine the lives of the three women. Various primary sources (archival papers, autobiographies, newspapers, letters, historical photographs, and committee minutes) and secondary sources (texts related to Manitoba history, journal articles, and servant-leadership theory) were utilized. Data enabled the construction of biographical profiles of the lives of the three women. It was not the intent of the author to rewrite their histories, but rather to analyze their lives and related materials for evidence of the ten characteristics (or their proxies) of servant-leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, and foresight, commitment to the growth of people, stewardship, and building community.