This qualitative study identifies prominent leadership traits that contributed to women’s successful election in California. Moreover, this study discovers how intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability contribute to California women’s success. The research design was a qualitative narrative study. Women elected officials in local, state, and federal legislatures in California were the participants. The conceptual framework served as a basis for the purpose and research questions. Semi-structured questions were utilized to interview women elected officials in California to identify leadership traits that contributed to their successful election. Following an extensive literature review, an expert panel of researchers ascertained the validity of this research. Content analysis was applied to code key themes and a second reviewer established reliability. Research participants’ responses unveiled 5 themes that California women elected officials said contributed to their success: (a) it’s important to be knowledgeable and smart; (b) overcoming challenges, self-doubt, and belief; (c) determination is key; (d) integrity as a value; and (e) relating (relationships) to others, approachability, and connecting to people. These traits correlated to those noted by Northouse (2013) and served as this study’s conceptual framework. These traits will help with future studies on women’s participation in politics, and trait leadership theories. Additionally, scholars may use the traits this study identified to further research of women who seek to become elected officials. The findings from this study may also guide institutions that assist women leaders who aspire to become elected officials. In addition to this study being relevant for scholars, it may serve women intent on attaining leadership positions in government. Political parties and think tanks may utilize the findings to examine the current landscape of women’s participation in government in California and throughout the United States.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Women public officers -- California -- Case studies; Women politicians -- California -- Case studies; Leadership in women -- California -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hyatt, Laura;