Date of Graduation

Spring 2024


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Carrisa Hoelscher


The experiences of women in leadership have been well studied in academia, but there remains a gap in the literature regarding and understanding of the experiences of women who are in religious leadership roles. I examined what challenges these women experience in their roles, and how they make sense of those challenges, using the constant comparative method of data analysis to analyze interviews with 12 women who have leadership roles within their protestant church or nonprofit organization. The results indicate that these individuals experience challenges that are consistent with past research on women in leadership. However, the results also illustrate that women utilize ideas of duty toward their work and reward from their work to describe their sensemaking strategies when dealing with those challenges, often through the use of religious language. These findings advance our knowledge of the lived experiences of women in religious leadership roles, and the ways in which they utilize religious language in their sensemaking strategies.


sensemaking, women, gender, religion, language, Christianity, protestant, leadership, communication

Subject Categories

Organizational Communication


© Amanda Wadkins

Open Access