Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Anne Hacker


Girls from father-absent families tend to form low levels of trust that may dictate relationships throughout life, including progression into leadership roles. There is evidence to suggest that girls raised in father-absent families fail to reach their potential, and therefore public programs that address the development of strong interpersonal and leadership skills would enhance these capacities. Unfortunately, public programming gaps exist for girls raised in father-absent families that would provide the skills needed to be effective leaders in their schools, communities, and careers. Using House's path-goal leadership theory as the framework, this phenomenological study explored how girls from father-absent families developed the skills to lead and what factors the women perceived to be contributors or barriers to their development as organization leaders. A sample of 10 women who were raised in father-absent families, and who held leadership positions in public or nonprofit sectors in the southeastern area of the United States participated in the in-depth interviews that generated data for this study. The data were coded and analyzed using a modified van Kaam method. Findings suggest that lack of trust hindered the transition and development into a leadership role, as did the leadership style of the participant. Alternatively, participants reported that their sense of resiliency and spiritual connections were factors that helped in their development as leaders. These results may contribute to social change by providing policymakers, leaders, and service organizations recommendations that will encourage support for public programming initiatives for girls from father-absent families.