Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)




Margaret Cadieux


Rajini Srikanth

Subject Categories

Business | Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Leadership Studies | Women's Studies


The purpose of this report is to understand what makes a successful female leader. Since there are so few women in executive level positions, especially chief executive officer positions, I became interested in analyzing how successful leaders act in contrast with how unsuccessful leaders act. To analyze, I will focus on the leadership of two prominent businesswomen, one who has been successful in their tenure, and one who has been unsuccessful. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, Inc. has been successful throughout her tenure, while Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo has been unsuccessful in turning the company around. I will analyze the similarities and differences between these leaders. Factors that will be considered include education, leadership style, reactions during moments of controversy and/or crisis, and their response to difficult issues. I expect to find that the success, or failure, of these women is mainly due to their styles of leadership as well as their level of emotional intelligence and communication style. Mary Barra exhibited a transformational style of leadership during her tenure, while expressing a high level of emotional intelligence. Marissa Mayer failed to adapt to the organizational culture of Yahoo and exhibited a transactional style of leadership and low level of emotional intelligence. External factors are also considered.