Document Type

Honors Paper


Ann Devlin

Publication Date



Leadership has been described and thought of as stereotypically masculine, and consequently, leadership positions in student government have historically been dominated by men. This study compared archival data from schools that changed their admission policy from all women to coed (n = 2), changed from all men to coed (n = 1), or a school that has been coed since its founding (n = 1) to see if the history of a school was related to gender representation in the student government leadership positions. The schools that shifted to coed all made the shift at the same time (1969). The study also surveyed students from one of the the schools that shifted from all women to coed (n = 235), and the school that shifted from all men to coed (n = 55) on how many student government presidents and vice presidents they guessed were women in the past 40 years. The survey also obtained their opinions of what traits an ideal leader possesses as well as their views on the presence of sexism in society today. The survey was to investigate if the history of a school was related to current students’ opinions of sexism and of what traits they think an ideal leader would possess. Results show that history of the school is related to students’ estimates of women’s representation in student government leadership positions, but not to ideas of an ideal leader or sexist beliefs. Results also show that gender is related to sexist beliefs.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.