Limiting Factors in Women’s Attainment of Leadership Positions in Higher Education Administration

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Florida Southern College
The representation of women in higher education leadership roles does not accurately reflect the female student population in institutions of higher education or in higher education faculty.Limited studies exist applying a feminist framework in the world of higher education to the themes of power and privilege associated with many male leaders. The purpose of this mixed method research study grounded in a feminist phenomenological framework with references to social role theory was to itemize a list of limiting factors that hold women back from achieving leadership roles in higher level education in the hopes of ameliorating the struggles and culturally-instituted biases women must meet and overcome by acting strategically to serve as senior leaders at colleges and universities. Interviews with eight women in higher education leadership roles and a quantitative survey completed by 139 women in higher education leadership roles served as the basis for this study. The findings of this study revealed that participants struggle to maintain satisfying personal and professional lives. Women also must sometimes seemingly choose between motherhood and a career, balancing a sense of guilt and self-sacrifice. The idea of what constitutes a true mentorship and the principles of transformational leadership were also investigated. In terms of overcoming barriers, those who participated agreed that their gender was a barrier in obtaining leadership roles in higher education in some instances and that the good old boy network still exists. Recommendations for increasing female representation in educational leadership included creating more transparent leave and hiring practices and the idea of tenure stop clock. A call to action to minimize gender bias and build a more supportive culture were made as a result of the findings in this study.
Dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership in the School of Education at Florida Southern College by Danielle DeConcilio.
Feminism, Leadership, Higher education, Administration, Transformational
DeConcilio, D. (2016). Limiting factors in women's attainment of leadership positions in higher education administration (Order No. 10257318). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (1875948398). Retrieved from