Career paths of dental hygienists: Factors which foster or hinder advancement to administrative positions

Gwendolynn Rose Deichman Newman, Marquette University


The purpose of this study was to investigate the career paths of selected dental hygiene faculty and the factors that influenced their pursuance or nonpursuance of administrative positions. These faculty were employed by the Wisconsin Technical College System during the 1994-1995 academic year. The study sought to: (1) describe the career paths of dental hygiene faculty, (2) identify personal and institutional factors that fostered or hindered advancement to an administrative role, (3) identify what type of organizational climate supported or hindered dental hygiene faculty in the investigation and pursuit of an administrative position. The investigation had two components: a mail survey questionnaire sent to 23 dental hygiene faculty and administrators followed by five in-depth case-study interviews. Data analysis disclosed that dental hygiene faculty had similar early career path experience with no early role models. Study participants moved from clinical practice to teaching positions at the average age of 30 and into administrative roles at 41. The major reason for seeking a teaching position was for new challenges while building on educational and occupational accomplishments. Master's degrees had been completed by 60% of the participants. Factors that fostered advancement were a high level of self-esteem, high personal commitment to goals, a supportive husband/significant other, support of coworkers and supervisor, and involvement on school-wide committees. A career development plan was significant. Those with administrative roles were more likely to have developed such a plan. Management style that was perceived as participative, supportive of promoting women, and promoting first from within, was also cited as a positive factor. Negative factors that hindered advancement included sex-role stereotyping, time constraints of balancing career and family, the lack of mentors, and the lack of participation in formal leadership development programs. A union contract gave job security to faculty but fostered a self-imposed and organizational barrier to administrative positions. Promotional opportunities were more evident at smaller colleges with a participative style of management. Individuals interested in obtaining administrative positions must actively seek out opportunities and sponsors.

Recommended Citation

Newman, Gwendolynn Rose Deichman, "Career paths of dental hygienists: Factors which foster or hinder advancement to administrative positions" (1995). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9634674.