TThe career development of female presidents of two-year colleges in Georgia
Chandler, Carol Sue
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An employment disparity between men and women in top management positions is evident on college campuses in the United States. Although the number of female college Presidents has grown significantly since the 1990’s, the numbers are still not representative of the numbers of women in the regular workforce (56% in 2002; U.S. Department of Labor, BLS). Women hold about 29% of the presidencies in community colleges nationwide. Yet, they make up 31% of the Presidents of two-year colleges in Georgia. Little research has been published on the development of existing Presidents and “even less on the development of women leaders in academia” (Madsen, 2007). This study focused on the career experiences of female Presidents of two-year colleges in Georgia including positive and negative influences on their career development. A basic qualitative research design was used to gather and analyze data. Data were collected mainly through semi-structured interviews. Inductive analysis using constant comparisons of data elements (statements, phrases, and passages) resulted in the discovery of themes from which conclusions were drawn. It was found that the participants’ formative experiences, key developmental factors, personal factors, and socialization factors all had an influence on their career development. Early in their careers most of the women in this study chose traditionally female-oriented occupations to pursue. Most of them studied an educational curriculum in college or got a teaching certificate upon graduating. All but one have doctoral degrees. When first arriving at the technical college level, they did not have a goal to be the President. They all took increasingly more complex positions in the college building confidence as they climbed the ladder to the presidency. The rich description of the findings and the concluding discussion will assist women who aspire to be Presidents of two-year colleges as to the cultural and social factors that influence women’s career development. It will also provide career nurturing information to college systems that foster leadership development of both women and men. The results of this study will be invaluable to the developers of those programs as most programs have been male-oriented, male-dominated, and led by males.