All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education & Allied Health

Degree Program

Collaborative High Impact Instruction


Education and Special Education

First Advisor

Gale Rice

Second Advisor

Jenna M. Voss

Third Advisor

Kasi Williamson


Women, Senior Leadership, Higher Education, Mentoring, Intertwinning


Women are underrepresented in higher education senior leadership. Though this work focuses on senior leadership roles, it is important to note that this underrepresentation reaches beyond senior leadership roles and impacts all college and university employment levels, including recruiting and retaining qualified and diverse faculty members. The challenge is to identify push factors, glass ceilings, and other barriers that prevent women's equitable representation. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the lived experiences women in higher education senior leadership roles identified as they navigated their career paths, including identifying personal, professional, and institutional challenges women face and the strategies they employed. Additionally, this study examined the role mentoring and mentorship programs played in addressing the challenges women in senior leadership roles face.

This phenomenological qualitative study employed a feminist theoretical framework to examine the lived experiences of women currently in higher education senior leadership positions. Using an online survey, data were collected from 26 women. These women were asked to participate in a small focus group discussion. Of the 26 women, 13 participated in semi-structured small focus group interviews to answer follow-up questions and further discuss their experiences. An interesting nuance of their lived experiences shared was how personal and professional challenges were intertwined. This intertwining was also reflected in the participants' approach to their strategies to address these challenges. Findings suggest that implementing a mentoring network program will create an equitable representation of women and positively influence future women leaders of higher education.

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.