A Qualitative Study of Panhellenic Sorority Membership Attrition
The goal of this study was to understand the authentic reasons for women joining and discontinuing their Panhellenic sorority membership at Bowling Green State University. The total number of women initiated into a Panhellenic sorority in the fall semester 2006 was 265. By the end of the fall semester 2007, 88 initiated members had quit and 177 remained active members. The meant the community had lost approximately one-third of its new members over a one-year time frame. Through utilization of qualitative techniques to understand the motivation to join, benefits of membership and reasons for leaving the sorority community, the needs of potential members can be assessed and adjustments made to improve the sorority membership experience.
Two methods of qualitative study were utilized in this study. The first was a focus group consisting of 8 current, active sorority women, drawn from PHC sororities. The second method utilized individual interviews held with 6 women who left the BGSU sorority community after affiliating in fall 2006 and ending membership since becoming an initiated member. The combination of qualitative methods was chosen to provide a more comfortable environment for women who left to share details of their membership experience. Theoretic and networking sampling methods were utilized to gain participants for the study.
The results showed that women who chose to continue their membership showed feelings of attachment and engagement with their experience through connection to the organization, relationships, and desire for self-knowledge gains from the membership experience. Women who joined and chose to leave described overall feelings of conflict and disconnect with the sorority experiences. These conflicts were revealed through organizational difficulties, interpersonal relationships, membership expectations, time and requirements, and financial obligations. The experiences of former members revealed the need for a highly relational experience and to understand more fully the membership experience and expectations earlier during membership affiliation.
The information shared by study participants illuminated the need within the higher education community in general and fraternal community in particular to understand membership needs of women's organizations and reflect those needs in practice. For example, the utilization of women's, organizational, and general student development theories to educate practice and membership services of the future. The importance of assisting sorority organizations to ensure that the membership experience is consistent between perceived and actual membership through continual evaluation and membership development could provide valuable gains to members and improvement in the overall experience.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:sorority greek life fraternal organizations student college university sororities panhellenic
Date of Publication:01/01/2008