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ERIC Number: ED556688
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 124
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3037-4156-2
Defining a Successful Leadership Pathway: Women in Academia and the Role of Institutional Support
Thomas, Sheila A.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Northcentral University
Studies in the literature have demonstrated underrepresentation of women in higher education leadership. Nonetheless, women leaders have achieved success when they received strong institutional support. However, even with supportive institutional policies like family leave, there was a need for mapping a more defined career pathway for aspiring women leaders. The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study was to explore the role of institutional support in the development of women higher education leaders. Public four-year institutions in the United States served as the unit of analysis, and 12 women administrators participated in one-to-one interviews. Through open-ended questions, participants examined the role of institutional support in their career development. A second group of eight leadership program graduates and students participated in a web-conference focus group. Interviews and focus group responses were recorded and transcribed, and the data was coded and analyzed, reporting on themes and meanings. Participants identified financial assistance, coaching and mentoring, leadership support and open institutional culture as aids in development. Institutional barriers included negative perceptions, discrimination, unfriendly policies and unwelcoming institutional culture. Even though it was unclear if having been a student and administrator at the same institution was advantageous, women who attained progressively responsible positions remained at their institution. While women were sometimes hesitant to promote themselves, those who showed initiative were more likely to attain a leadership position. Women whose mentors were also champions were better able to navigate toward leadership positions. Aspiring leaders were advised to be academically and professionally prepared, be authentic and self-motivated, and be mindful of the pressures of work and life balance or harmony. Institutions who have not yet addressed leadership staffing in significant and strategic ways should consider the value and contributions of women, be willing to address stereotypes and introduce positive change. Women should not be dependent on others, but be willing to accept assistance and take advantage of institutional resources in creating a career pathway. Future research could include increasing the number of participants; include race, institutional loyalty, salary inequity and regional nuances as variables to further define the role of institutional support for women. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A