Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)



First Advisor

Norma Noonan

Second Advisor

Alan Tuchtenhagen


After decades of work to close gender gaps at the highest levels of leadership, organizations are turning to women’s leadership development programs with greater frequency. These programs are often designed to address skill gaps common among women, but have produced limited results. This paper reviews the literature on the gender gap, women’s leadership development programs, and the requisite organizational transformations needed to address the gender gap. The implications are that change must come from both the bottom up by developing women’s leadership skills and from the top down with organizations confronting bias and structural barriers. Only then will organizations fully capitalize on their investment in women’s leadership development. This paper addresses a bi-directional approach to change by proposing a women’s leadership development program grounded in the theory of authentic leadership and suggests a list of organizational changes to enhance the effectiveness of the proposed program.


SC 11.MAL.2018.Hittner.GM