In 2002, 21% of all college and university presidents were women. Investigating ways to increase that number was one of the reasons I undertook this study. In order to discover how women learned to lead, I explored the perceptions of women leaders as to how they learned the skills necessary to lead a college or university. I interviewed twelve women presidents to understand what they had learned and how they had learned it. As a foundation for the study, my literature review covered such topics as generic theories of leadership, academic leadership, and leadership as seen through a liberal feminist lens. During the interviews, the presidents spoke candidly about early learning and family influence,formal education, career intentions and pathways to their presidencies, training programs, the influence of role models and mentors, and obstacles to success. The study not only investigated important aspects of how women learned to lead, it provided a foundation for further research into such areas as the leadership pipeline and equality of opportunity for women in academe in the 21st century.