Changing Ourselves: Narrative Experiences of Women Taking the Lead in Family and Consumer Sciences
The purpose of this feminist narrative study was to articulate the meaning and understandings emerging female leaders bring to their experience of assuming responsibility for leading in family and consumer sciences education. Narrative inquiry was used to investigate women's experiences as a theoretical resource for understanding present conditions and exploring the meaning women make of experiences of socialization and leadership in family and consumer sciences. Interviews conducted with three women identified to be emerging leaders were used as the primary source of data. Through the use of inductive analysis, themes emerged from the stories the women shared of the development of their leadership and socialization into the profession. Themes included: key influences and experiences, values and motivation, developing a philosophy of leadership, challenges and sacrifices, and aspirations. Characterizing these three women's socialization was internalized attitudes and beliefs that placed commitment and passion at the forefront of their professional development. They expressed the critical role of mentoring relationships in fostering the commitment and passion that led to leadership actualization in their professional lives. Through their experiences they developed a feminist conceptualization of leadership based in a philosophy of leadership as nonhierarchical and representing the leader as someone who collaborates or facilitates collective action toward the empowerment of others or the accomplishment of a common goal. This study reveals the significance of providing and encouraging relationships and experiences that promote a professional culture that cultivates commitment and passion in order to build and sustain leaders.
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