Cracking the glass ceiling: A phenomenological study of women administrators in higher education

Date
2014-01-01
Authors
Jarmon, Lori
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Daniel C. Robinson
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Altmetrics
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Abstract

Women administrators in higher education, despite their significant numbers, have been of little concern to researchers. While legislative policies have helped women in higher education, despite these initiatives women in higher education still experience large disparities in salary, promotion and prestige. These indivisible barriers, that often keeps women down are referred to as the glass ceiling and was the focus of this study.

The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to describe the glass ceiling as perceived by women as senior level administrators in higher education in the Midwest. This study also sought to understand the characteristics of women in senior level administrative positions in higher education as well as the tools and resources necessary for women to obtain a senior level administrative position in higher education. In-depth interviews with seven women in senior level administrative positions were used to capture the essence of their lived experience in their current senior level administrative position. The findings of the study were presented in four themes: perception of the glass ceiling, characteristics and challenges, tools and resources and overcoming obstacles, and advice.

The participants in this study provided valuable insights based on their many years of experience as senior level administrators in higher education that will assist women in middle management positions that are interested in a senior level administrative position in higher education. Their experience and advice is a candid reality that senior level administrative positions are a lot of work and sometimes require personal sacrifices but they are obtainable with proper guidance, support and strategic planning.

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