Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Carolyn . Shields


Stereotype threat is a highly supported phenomenon in social psychology. It is the fear, whether consciously or subconsciously, that one will confirm within oneself a negative stereotype about one’s social or identity group, through poor performance or self-evaluation. This study attempts to determine if stereotype threat could be a contributor to the underrepresentation of women, and therefore Christian women, in higher education leadership. To investigate possible causes of this a set of surveys was completed. The first included questions regarding employment, race, religion, education, and politics. It was used to determine stratified samples for the second survey. The second survey’s introductory questions change according to which of the four stratified groups they were placed into. Group 1 was asked their gender before continuing the survey. Group 2 was asked their Christian affiliation. Group 3 was asked both demographics. Group 4 was the control group, which was asked neither. Each group was then asked a series of leadership questions. The three of interest to this study were “How would you rate your leadership skills?” “How do you believe others would rate your leadership skills?” and “How interested are you in advancing your career in higher education?” They were rated on a 5-point Likert scale. It was found that there were significant differences in the mean ranks for both the rate yourself and how others would rate you questions. Through post hoc pair-wise analyses, it was found that the significance was only between the control group and the group that received both demographic questions before completing the survey. The career aspirations question had no significant differences in mean ranks. In the cases where significance occurred, it was observed that the means for asking only one demographic were lower, but not in a statistically significant manner. However, when both demographics were asked, they rated significantly lower. As a result, it is concluded that stereotype threat has a significant effect on Christian women in higher education regarding leadership. This, in turn, may be one of the contributors to the underrepresentation of Christian women in higher education leadership.