A woman's journey: Navigating through a higher education career

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Oelke, Tina C
thesis / dissertation description
History has shown that women have made strides in gender equality in higher education. Even though women are more likely to enter into college and complete degrees, they are underrepresented in administrative levels of higher education institutions. Eighteen women presidents of master’s level institutions as classified by the 2015 Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education were interviewed. The purpose of this study was to examine how women leaders of higher education institutions navigated through expected and unexpected experiences to achieve their administrative positions. The presidents shared their journeys to the presidency, to include their expected and unexpected experiences, the influential people they encountered, and experiences with gender subtleties.^ This narrative study uses Eagly and Carli’s labyrinth (2007) as a conceptual framework, allowing the presidents’ stories to have a voice. The emergent themes indicated that their journeys were complex, influential people were often pivotal in their professional development, and although strategies were developed to overcome gender subtleties, imbalances were still noticed. This research provides an opportunity for women who aspire to be presidents to learn from those who have successfully navigated the journey. ^