Women in Leadership and Their Influence on Rural Community Development

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Pearison, Christina
Master of Leadership Development
This research was conducted to examine why women who live in rural communities are not actively engaging in leadership roles; as well as to create an understanding of what can be done to initiate this change to further strengthen small-town sustainability. The conducted research also draws attention to the fact that although women are increasingly stepping into leadership roles across the world, the process has been painfully slow. This is despite the mounting evidence that having women in leadership roles can boost an economy, bridge unexpected gaps, and increase all-around growth. Strong female leadership is identified as being a part of many successful grassroot stories across the globe. However, Sullivan County, Indiana is not yet one of those grassroot success stories. Reveal – Sullivan County is a 501(C)(3) organization that was created to begin bridging the gaps that women feel are stopping them from engaging in current and future leadership roles. Addressing barriers and engaging emerging women leaders through a tailored organization is the overall mission of Reveal – Sullivan County. This organization will focus on supporting women’s advancement through efforts of creating programs that are designed to gather research, share insights, and learn and teach women had to grow from others’ past experiences. Reveal – Sullivan County will not only offer learning experiences for women who are looking to advance into leadership roles; Reveal will support and highlight the success of these women leaders through a community magazine, titled Reveal. Between the networking events and the published magazine it is the goal of Reveal – Sullivan County to create a clear blueprint for women to successfully follow to identify their “why”, determine their goals, and the steps that they need to achieve them in becoming leaders of their small community. Identifying their intellectual and professional passions while leveraging the resources that they need to succeed are aspects of Reveal – Sullivan County will offer them; women will be able to step into a plethora of roles within the community with just being able to learn in an environment that was created for them to succeed in. As Reveal – Sullivan County begins to grow and collaborate with women, organizations, and other businesses within the community they will create an atmosphere of growth for Sullivan County. Through fundraising efforts, grant writing sources, and community volunteer involvement, efforts will be made to increase economic growth through investing in old and new existing businesses; as well as focusing on one community project a year, and supporting additional non-profits within the county. The organization has a clear focus on connecting women to each other that will encourage growth for the overall sustainability of their small community. Although this mission starts with improving the number of women in leadership roles throughout the community, its ultimate goal is to increase economic growth, entrepreneurial spirits, and the overall longevity of Sullivan County and its success for all those who call it home.