Courage, contrarian thinking, conviction, and care: women business executives’ constructions of leadership

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentationpeer-review


This study used the feminist ethic of care and servant-leadership to build an interdisciplinary framework for empirical research using content analysis of the commencement speeches delivered by 25 female executives at US American universities. Although there remains some skepticism about the application and practice of servant-leadership in a business context, these female Fortune leaders seemed to advocate attitudes toward leadership that included characteristics of servant-leadership and care ethics. The significance of this study is two-fold. Firstly, it provides an image of the leadership and decision-making processes of women who have broken through the glass ceiling and navigated the labyrinth of the C-suite. Secondly, it contributes to the development of richer theoretical constructs of women’s leadership as well as servant leadership through critical and ethical perspectives. The theoretical implications of results concern primarily further development of research models for servant-leadership, ethical leadership, and business leadership. Practical utility can be found in application toward leadership development for women and ethical leadership education in general. Results offered a glimpse into the shared values about business leadership as constructed by some of the most powerful business leaders in the United States.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Leadership Association 17th Annual Global Conference: Leading Across Borders and Generations - Convention Center, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 14 Oct 201517 Oct 2015
Conference number: 17


ConferenceInternational Leadership Association 17th Annual Global Conference
Abbreviated titleILA 2015
Internet address


  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Ethic of Care
  • Women's leadership
  • Servant Leadership


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