This study seeks to answer the question: in analyzing the effect the leadership style of international organization (IO) women executive heads has on their behavior in office, is gender always a necessary variable to incorporate into leadership style? While there has been a great deal of scholarship on executive heads of IOs, women have largely been left out. Kirsten Haack began to address this gap with her studies on women’s ascent to these positions. My research continues to fill this gap by addressing the leadership style of these women once they are in office. There are two competing arguments in the literature concerning gender and leadership; one which considers a gender a necessary variable, and the other which concludes that gender is not always a necessary variable to include when studying leadership style. This study seeks to determine the applicability of Leadership Trait Analysis (LTA) to the study of women executive heads, and based on these results whether gender should be considered in all cases as a variable when studying leadership style. The two women executive heads chosen for this study were Gro Harlem Brundtland of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The initial results of the LTA for these women supported the use of the methodology to this subsection of IO leaders. Due to these initial findings, an in-depth comparison was then performed comparing the expected leadership style profiles of these women to actions taken during the creation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis, and the Greek debt situation. This comparison provides further support for the use of LTA to study women executive heads of IOs. However, future research should move beyond this effort to examine additional women executive heads to further test the validity of LTA, along with completing further research concerning the value of gender as a variable in the study of women’s leadership.


Kille, Kent


Political Science


International Relations


Women Executive Heads, Leadership Trait Analysis, International Organizations

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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