Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Department of Leadership, Counseling, Adult, Career & Higher Education

Major Professor

William H. Young, III, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Judith A. Ponticell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yi-Hsin Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jody Conway, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Sullins, Ed.D.


higher education, gender, women in leadership, administration


The purpose of this study was to (a) investigate perceptions of women administrators in higher education as they relate to their positions and (b) learn more about women’s perceptions as they relate to gender in leadership in higher education. and (c) determine where we need to go from here in terms of improvement. Investigating these issues in the 21st century will give us a current temperature and a snapshot of where we are and where we need to go from here as it relates to women leaders in higher education.

The focus of this study was women who are administrators in higher education. The study participants encompass middle management administrators in higher education. This study used a questionnaire designed and utilized by Gloria Appelt Slick and Dr. Sandra Lee Gupton when they conducted their research in 1993 on women leaders in K-12 education. The following research questions served as a guide to this inquiry:

• Research Question 1 (RQ1): What are the perceptions of the participants in regard to the impact of gender in higher education leadership?

• Research Question 2 (RQ2): What are the self-perceptions of the participants regarding their own career development as it relates to their position as a woman administrator?

• Research Question 3 (RQ3): What are the self-perceptions of the participants compared to their female and male counterparts related to given leadership characteristics?

In this study, a quantitative research design was used. Descriptive statistics were utilized for configuring and describing sets of data that have been collected from the participants in the study. Finally, content analysis was used to analyze the final two questions that are more open ended in nature.

Overall, the participants expressed a level of comfort and success in their leadership positions in higher education administration. The majority also said that if they had the chance they would “do it all over again.” While a level of comfort is there, there were other issues that surfaced in this study that potentially need to be addressed to further the leadership success for women in higher education.