International recognition for Waikato thesis on young women leaders

9 February 2012

Dr Rachel McNae

Dr Rachel McNae: Recipient of a 2011 Emerald Publishing Award for her thesis on young women and leadership development.

A PhD thesis inspired by young women leaders has resulted in a prestigious international award for University of Waikato Faculty of Education senior lecturer Dr Rachel McNae.

Dr McNae’s thesis ‘Young women and leadership development: Co-constructing leadership learning in a New Zealand secondary school’, won the leadership and strategy category of the 2011 Emerald Publishing Awards.
The Emerald Publishing/European Foundation for Management and Development Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards were established to support global research.

“To have my doctoral research acknowledged in this way is truly humbling. The award is significant as although it’s based on my research abilities, for me it’s more about acknowledging the importance of creating spaces for young women and their voices within the vast landscape of educational leadership research,” says Dr McNae.

Hamilton students take on leadership programme

Dr McNae’s research focused on an alternative approach to leadership development with young women in Hamilton high schools. Part of the research involved Dr McNae and a group of young women co-constructing a leadership development programme together, participating in it and evaluating it. An unexpected outcome was the group of graduates running the programme for another cohort of students the following year.

For Dr McNae, this was the most unplanned, yet inspiring part of her PhD – when she found herself out of a job as the young women took ownership to change the leadership culture within the school.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside a group of amazing young women, all so different and contributing in different ways but all wanting the same thing – to be heard and to see a difference in the way leadership is viewed in their school.”

Dr McNae is delighted to share this success with her doctoral supervisors and acknowledges the inspirational support from Professor Noeline Alcorn and Professor Jan Robertson, and former colleague Associate Professor Jane Strachan.

View Dr McNae's thesis online.

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