Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Joseph C. Rost, PhD, Director; Edward F. DeRoche, PhD; Mary W. Scherr, PhD


Catholics, gender, feminine role models, Leadership studies, women


Women are being challenged to greater levels of growth and self-development because of the expanding opportunities and options available to them in nearly ever facet of society today. Most women need the support and inspiration of other women as role models in order to respond to these challenges. In living out their faith commitment in the present culture, Catholic women also need role models. The Catholic Church has long presented its members with a variety of saints, and with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as role models. Are Mary and women saints viable role models for Catholic women today? If not, who are the women who are serving as role models for them? This descriptive study utilized survey research methods to examine the feminine role models of Catholic women in order to determine the type of women who serve as role models for them, the specific prominent individuals whom they select as their role models, and the qualities select. Participants in the study were women volunteers of various ages, marital states and education, from rural, urban and suburban areas in six different states. Three hundred sixty-two women responded to the survey in which they named and identified women whom they considered role models for themselves. The study concluded that women of all ages do select feminine role models for themselves, and that a woman's own mother is most likely to be among her role models. Married women who are personally known to the individual are selected most frequently. Prominent women, when selected, are likely to be humanitarians such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta or the wives of United States presidents. The qualities most frequently admired in the role models selected are those of loving and caring, courage, service, strength, ability, and faith. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not widely selected as a role model by Catholic women, and women saints of the Catholic Church are least likely to be selected as role models by Catholic women.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access