Rural pageants: an evaluation of leadership development in female rural youth aged 16 to 25

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Authors

Kent, Elizabeth

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University of Guelph

Abstract

This thesis is an exploratory study of two rural pageants, the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies' Ambassador competition and the Ontario Plowmen's Association's Queen of the Furrow program. It was hypothesized that rural pageants restrict the development of leadership skills by promoting stereotypical roles for young women. Data was gathered through interviews, questionnaires and participant observation. Results documented that although stakeholders desire rural pageants to develop tangible skills, programming fails to provide opportunities for their participants or yearlong representatives. Programming focused on poise and personality or appearance and deportment having disastrous effects on contestant's self-esteem and self-worth. This research shows that past Ambassadors, Queens and Co-ordinators are disallowing the program to change to maintain traditions. This process is inadvertently having adverse affects on the development of female rural youth's communication, leadership and professional skills.

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Keywords

rural pageants, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies' Ambassador competition, Ontario Plowmen's Association's Queen of the Furrow program, leadership skills, stereotypical roles, young women, professional skills

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