Female Administrators in Higher Education: Victories, Broken Barriers, and Persisting Obstacles

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Dissertation & Theses Collection, Page: 1-159

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Cosimini, Susan Heather
Education, Higher Education Administration|Education, Leadership|Women's Studies|Gender Studies
thesis / dissertation description
Many women working within institutions of higher education remain in middle-management roles, rather than senior-administrative positions (Gangone, 2008). Researchers surmise that women may be limited by their own personal choices and/or the external demands of the higher education work environment (Apter, 1993; Bender, 1980; Marshall, 2009; Nobbe & Manning, 1997; Reeves, 1975; Saguria & Johnsrud, 1985).^ This study investigated barriers with which Caucasian females have contended with, and overcame, throughout their non-academic senior administrative roles at institutions of higher education. The following research questions were developed in order to address issues women face in overcoming barriers. (1) What do Caucasian, non-academic, female, senior administrators within higher education perceive as the barriers they faced throughout their careers? (2) How do Caucasian, non-academic, female, senior administrators in higher education describe overcoming the barriers they faced throughout their careers as senior level administrators? (3) What do Caucasian, non-academic, female, senior administrators perceive as adjustments needed in institutions of higher education to reduce barriers women face throughout their careers as non-academic, senior administrators in higher education?^ In-depth interviews and document analysis were used to identify emerging themes and patterns to develop constructs. A purposeful sample of Caucasian, nonacademic, female, senior administrators was selected based on the richness of information they could provide. It should be noted, that although it was not the original intent of this study, the participants of this study were all currently employed in senior management roles at religious institutions of higher education.^ The finding in the study revealed that participants were in agreement regarding unique barriers that women face throughout their careers. These findings suggest that one of the most significant and agreed upon barriers for women was managing both family and work responsibilities. Additionally, participants described barriers regarding male dominance in senior positions at institutions of higher education and the good old boy network. In terms of overcoming barriers, participants agreed that they had to prove their credibility in several ways. Moreover, participants suggested that leaders at institutions of higher education should cultivate the professional of female leaders and learn to value their leadership styles. ^