Dr. Susan R. Madsen is the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership & Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University. A global scholar and speaker, she is also the Founding Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project and the Utah Women and Education Initiative, and has led efforts in Utah to get more women to graduate from college and to help more girls and women find their voices and become leaders. Dr. Madsen received a bachelor’s degree from BYU, masters from Portland State, and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband Greg live in Highland, Utah, and are the parents of four adult children.


5:40 Women feeling a calling or purpose in both religious and secular settings gives them more confidence 8:40 Either/or socialization for women has become powerful in Church culture over the past 60 years 11:30 Research into sister missionaries started with the purpose of learning what influences women’s goals and aspirations to become leaders in their homes and communities 13:50 What leadership skills have women developed through mission service? How do they use them now? What other opportunities do they wish they would have had?

17:50 Men are more likely than women to see themselves as leaders 19:00 Competencies and leadership skills women gain from serving a mission: public speaking, conflict management, courage, interpersonal skills, problem solving, planning organization and accountability, confidence, spiritual growth, empathy, giving and receiving feedback, grit and resilience, mentoring, teaching, critical thinking, listening, personal growth and awareness, accepting others, time management, training others, teamwork, foreign language skills, intercultural competencies, goal-setting, managing people, work ethic, serving others, taking direction, independence, patience, decision-making and judgment, standing their ground, leading by example, self-discipline, adaptability, lifelong learning 27:10 Connecting these skills to leadership for women: “We have to be leaders”

  • Serving a mission helps women see themselves as leaders

33:45 How can we encourage women to act with confidence in leadership roles when men are present? Increasing internal confidence and changing societal systems

  • Look deeply at opportunities that are available and asking, can women do this?
  • Creating male allies: men who are aware and desire to be more inclusive

37:00 Women are socialized to keep quiet in a group with men 38:50 Leaders who understanding the differences between men and women create more powerful action and teams 42:50 A Mission President’s wife is a leader: to develop leadership identity, women need to see other women leading 45:15 Yearning for sisters to be included in leadership and missionary training 48:15 Talking more about Mother in Heaven and recognizing a connection to her 52:30 What are returned sister missionaries currently doing to use their knowledge and skills? All of those skills apply to leadership in the family and Church roles, and they have also translated them into leadership in their careers

  • 55:50 Women with leadership skills are not using them in the community as Church leaders have asked, serving in non-leadership roles instead

59:05 Receiving personal revelation about what God wants women to do in the world

  • Sheri Dew quote: “If we could unleash the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would change overnight.”
  • President Russell M. Nelson: “The women of this dispensation are distinct from the women of any other because this dispensation is distinct from any other.”
  • 1:02:00 Women judge each other harshly in the Church, but we need to recognize the power in our distinct differences and what God has called each woman to do

1:06:30 Serving a mission is one of the best leadership development opportunities for both men and women 1:09:30 Young women who do not serve missions should thoughtfully consider other ways they can intentionally develop leadership skills: do hard things and push yourself

  • Practice failing, and be kind to yourself when you fail

1:13:45 Helping young women better prepare to serve missions

  • It’s the reflection on experiences that teaches: learn to ask questions that guide them to discover what they learned


Utah Women and Leadership Project research Everyday Bias, by Howard Ross Why Gender Matters, by Leonard Sax Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer

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