In the summer of 2016, Dr. Olive Yonge began her research in courage. The research was designed to address the primary research question,

“What does courage mean to academic and nonacademic female administrators working in higher education?”

Through interviews of female administrators of Canadian post secondary institutions, Dr. Yonge sought to examine how administrators define courage and its relevancy in their work in the academy.


This study was conducted using classic, Glaserian grounded theory. Participants were asked six questions:

  1. What does courage mean to you?
  2. What contributes to your being courageous?
  3. What role do you believe gender plays in having courage?
  4. Give an example of a time you were courageous. 
  5. Think of a time when you weren't courageous, in retrospect, what happened?
  6. When you see courage in others, what do you see?

Participants were either interviewed in person, by telephone or in focus groups. Each interview was recorded and transcribed. The analysis of the interviews yielded a series of categories which mobilized thematic analysis through theoretical and substantive coding.


Participant inclusion criteria consisted of academic and non-academic female leaders who ranged from having held an administrative positions for at least six months to retired leaders. Purposive, convenience, and snowball sampling was used for recruitment into the study. The sample size was 92 women represented across 16 Canadian universities. Women worked  in positions from Directors to Presidents.

Ethics approval was granted from the University Ethics Committee.  A Consent Form and Information Letter was provided to the participant prior to data collection. 


Coming Soon


The research findings led Dr. Yonge's research team to disseminate multiple products. Based on the nature of the research, the team was challenged to be creative in honouring the summative findings and thematic expression of the participants. 

  • The monograph will be available as a free PDF download in SHOP, coming January 2020. 
  • A compilation of quotes from the interviews was collected and published in Dig Down and Do, which is available for purchase in SHOP, COMING SOON.
  • Cultivating My Courage: A Journal for Exploring and Strengthening Courage filled with exercises, reflections and writing prompts based on the themes that arose from the data will available for purchase in SHOP, COMING SOON .  
  • An original song, Glacier, was written and composed based on the transcripts of the interviews, available for purchase in MEDIA. 
  • You will also find video interviews with participants in MEDIA for further discussion and exploration of the research.