Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Leadership (PhD)


Mary Lowe


confidence, self-confidence, women, gender gap, underconfidence, Christian, multidimensional


Leadership Studies


In recent decades, several notable studies have revealed that women do not generally experience the same level of confidence as men. This is significant for women because of the debilitating implications of underconfidence. The purpose of this qualitative grounded theory study was, therefore, to explore common antecedents and deterrents of confidence so as to provide a theoretical framework related to the phenomenon of underconfidence among female theological educators while also providing insight into the multidimensional nature of confidence. The selected audience of this study were Christian female educators teaching within theological schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The theory guiding this study was Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), which examines self-perception in light of environmental influences, one’s agency capacity, social engagement opportunities, thought processes, and general outcome expectancies. Data were collected through a Multidimensional Self-Confidence survey and one-on-one interviews. As the data were distilled, key themes, categories, and observations began to emerge. These insights led to the identification of this core observation: The interrelated and accumulated impact of one’s identity-forging experiences produces a life narrative that, in turn, shapes one’s perceived value in the world, as well as one’s roles and responsibilities in it. While there is still much work and research yet to be done, it is the researcher’s earnest desire that this study will help women burdened by the weight and consequences of underconfidence find new hope and direction for their confidence journey.