Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Erin McHenry-Sorber

Committee Member

Rodney Hughes

Committee Member

Kathleen Provinzano

Committee Member

Nathan Sorber


This feminist-centered, narrative study focuses on the troubling gender gaps in higher education leadership by exploring the career paths and lived experiences of current women administrators at a large, public land-grant institution. This research identifies specific supports and barriers women face throughout their careers that might enable or prevent them from attaining or accessing high-level leadership roles in academic and non-academic administration. The study leans on feminist theory to position perceptions of women in leadership roles across many disciplines in the university setting while observing it as a critical lens to analyze gender inequality in the career pipeline for women leaders in higher education.

The research reveals the pervasiveness of ongoing gender-based discrimination that is embedded into the culture of many universities and faced by women faculty, staff, and administrators every day. The study contains practical implications for large, public land-grant and similar institutions, specifically related to a growing need for gender-diverse leadership at every level of university administration, the effectiveness of focused in-house women’s leadership programs, and the ongoing positive impact of intentional supervision and prioritized mentorship. This work contributes to the literature its examination of women’s experiences in both academic and non-academic leadership positions in the same institutional context.