Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol 5, No. I-January 2007 ISSN: 1541-6224


Copyright © 2007 Pro>Active Publications. Used by permission.


This qualitative study explores the impact of childhood themes on women's aspirations toward leadership as suggested by the Eccles Model of Achievement Related Choices. Using intensity sampling, the research solicits childhood gender- related experiences of women in leadership and non-leadership roles through interviews, focus groups, check lists, self-esteem measures and journaling. Using a phenomenological approach, themes prevalent in the childhood homes of the participants are identitied, coded, sorted and compared. The findings indicate that the messages sent to the participants about their own capabilities and the expectations their parents held for them are of greatest impact. These messages form the women's values regarding education, career choice and leadership potential. Dorothy's words in the 1939 MGM silver screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum's tale The Wizard of Oz (as she is about to click her heels and leave the Emerald City) should be a cause of concern for all women. After her victory over the wicked witch, her battle with the haunted forest and her confrontation with the winged monkeys, she tells Glinda, the good witch, and the Tin Man how the experience has changed her. When the Tin Man asks what she has learned, she states, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard" (Warner Home Video, 1999).