A woman's leadership experience at a private coeducational university in the Midwest

Theonestina K Katundano, Marquette University


This research study explored the experiences of a woman in a leadership position at a private coeducational institution in the Midwest. The literature review indicated a lack of women in the senior ranks in higher education especially in the deanship positions. There are only a few studies that investigate the role of women deans in public and private institutions. Because of the design of these studies, however, we do not have the opportunity to learn a great deal from these women concerning their experiences in these positions. This study focused on the experience and insights of a woman associate dean in an effort to correct the omission of studies on women occupying the position of dean. Using naturalistic methods, this study sought to answer one major question: What supports and challenges does a woman associate dean encounter in her leadership position at a private coeducational university? Initially, the exploration of the experience in the deanship focused on several factors: life background, career path, role conflict and ambiguity, stress and job satisfaction and career future aspirations. Data were collected in this naturalistic study using three data collection strategies: participant observation of the participant's natural setting, open-ended interviews and document analysis. Methods of data analysis included a constant comparative strategy, along with open and axial coding. In addition, a feminist analytical lens was employed to get a better understanding of the women perspective. As a result of conducting this study, immediate family, school and work supports emerged as important factors for a woman's personal growth, career choice and success in her administrative role. A series of family, school and work challenges emerged, however, to limit a woman's opportunities in attaining both tenure and promotion. It is concluded that it is important to engage in additional qualitative studies to set out an agenda for future research about the role of women in leadership positions. It is proposed that there is a need to conduct more case studies in different university settings in both private and public large institutions. Moreover, it is proposed that fieldwork is necessary in different disciplinary areas such as business, law, education, engineering and dental schools in order to fully capture the complexities of women working in specific contexts in higher education.

Recommended Citation

Katundano, Theonestina K, "A woman's leadership experience at a private coeducational university in the Midwest" (2005). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3201927.