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UVU Research Reveals Utah Women’s Draw To Leadership Roles Within Nonprofits

26 February 2014 No Comment

February 26, 2014

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Melinda Colton

Written by: Patricia Monsoor, 801-863-5483

According to a study by Susan Madsen, a professor of management at Utah Valley University, women in Utah are leading the nonprofit charge with an impressive presence in leadership positions as chief executives and board members of nonprofit organizations.

Madsen explained that women often have different motivations to lead than men: “Women are more often drawn to opportunities where they can envision themselves or their organizations helping people in need and giving a voice to those not being heard, so nonprofits seem to be a good fit for females in Utah,” she said.

An emerging area of leadership research reveals a “leadership calling” that is described as a “pull” attracting women to a particular organization, or toward a specific initiative because they feel well equipped and prepared in a certain area.

Many women have tremendous talents and skills to offer, which are critical in leading complex organizations, as most nonprofits are today. Those talents and skills are recognized and appreciated in the nonprofit field,” said Deborah S. Bayle, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Salt Lake. “Women are highly capable, and, at the same time, are caring and compassionate.”

Madsen and her research assistants found that the percentage of female chief officers ranges from 51.2 percent in Summit/Wasatch counties to 72.7 percent in the region that includes Iron, Sevier, Grand, Garfield and Wayne counties. There are more female chief executives than males in all classification areas, with the health field having the largest percentage of female chief executives (64.9 percent) and human services having the least (53 percent). Research also found that there are more female board members at nonprofits headed by women in Utah.

Of course, women can answer the “call” in many ways for different organizations or groups, but the nonprofit sector fits the leadership motives of many Utah women, Madsen explained. “Women are more likely to step forward and serve when they feel that it is their responsibility to do so or that their individual gifts and talents will be put to good use for important purposes,” she said.

The study’s findings are not surprising in light of recent research released in December 2013 by the Corporation for National and Community Service that ranked Utah as the No. 1 volunteering state in the nation, with 47.7 percent of adults volunteering. This volunteering rate is significantly above the national average of 26.5 percent. Provo, Ogden and Salt Lake ranked in the top five in their respective city categories.Madsen shared that there are many rewards for those who choose to work, volunteer and lead within Utah nonprofit organizations today. “While this work may not always relate to substantial financial gains, women thrive on the internal satisfaction of knowing their voices and efforts have helped to make a difference in people’s lives.”

For additional information, visit uvu.edu/uwlp.


About the Woodbury School of Business

The Woodbury School of Business is the largest business school in the Utah System of Higher Education and is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The WSB supports a variety of engaged learning projects and programs, including the Entrepreneurship Institute, in which students start their own business. The school is distinguished for its focus on student development, entrepreneurship, global involvement and innovative teaching. In addition to traditional undergraduate courses of study in disciplines ranging from accounting to marketing, the WSB offers an MBA program that accommodates the schedule of working professionals through evening and weekend classes.

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