Date of Award





Doctor of Education

Degree Type



Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Kimberly McEleevn

Second Advisor

Wendi Jenkins

Third Advisor

Kimberly D. Gill


There is an increasing concern about the absence of women in senior positions in academia and administration within institutions (Johnson, 2016). There is limited research to compare the journeys of women leaders in academics and administration. This study is an examination of women’s experiences of perceived barriers to leadership roles in faculty and administration. Using comprehensive interviews, this study explores personal accounts to emphasize apparent barriers to career advancement. The goal of the study is to explore women in senior positions in academia and administrative paths to leadership. The male dominated society has made it challenging for women to grow their careers in higher education. Bonawitz (2009) assessed factors including demographics, gender norms, education, employee relations, family, and unwritten rules. Additionally, researchers have evaluated policies and procedures to work on increasing the number of women in educational leadership (Bonawitz, 2009) Historically women have been a part of higher education, yet it’s not until recently that they have been represented in literature (Bonawitz, 2009). This study is a consideration of gender with an emphasis on institutional obstacles that hinder the progression of women into executive leadership positions in higher education. The study explores the leadership journeys of seven women leading in the roles of vice president level and up in administration and seven women serving in the roles of chair level and up on the academic side in the USG. I used intersectionality as a theoretical framework for the study. Yuval-Davis (2013) expressed that intersectionality is the examination of gender, race, and class as intersections. Lived experiences were examined to explore barriers and strategies that can impact individuals and groups concerning characteristics of gender and higher education. The study allows intersectionality theory to show different identities of women that are not often talked about in literature, while avoiding generalizations.