Although previous research reveals the many challenges that women leaders face, little research has examined whether the absence of mutual expectations of women leaders may be an underlying reason for these difficulties. This study explores whether varied expectations of women leaders impact the experiences of varsity collegiate women captains. Data are drawn from in-depth interviews with varsity team captains (n=6), as well as survey data collected from both captains and team members (n=34) at a small northeastern liberal arts college. Results suggest there is no behavioral framework for women leaders to refer to for successful leadership, a circumstance that contributes to discrepant expectations of women leaders between captains and team members. Ultimately, this fosters a more challenging leadership experience for women. A lack of mutual understanding about leadership, between women captains and team members, results in disappointed team members, and an overwhelming criticism of women captains. My findings suggest that if the beliefs and expectations of women captains and team members were to coincide, women leaders would have an easier time leading. Study results further suggest a number of practical implications, including the use of workshops, classes, and required team meetings for women’s teams to discuss team dynamics and leadership. This tactic could help women captains construct a general understanding of what it means to be a woman leader, making it easier for women captains to lead.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson, Daniel Chambliss

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.