Female Community College Presidents' Career Development Processes: A Qualitative Analysis

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Title: Female Community College Presidents' Career Development Processes: A Qualitative Analysis
Author: Vanhook-Morrissey, Sharon Elizabeth
Advisors: Dr. John M. Pettitt, Committee Member
Dr. J. Conrad Glass, Jr., Committee Member
Dr. Carol Casworm, Committee Member
Dr. George B. Vaughan, Committee Chair
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of female community college presidents' career development processes and of the experiences that influenced their decisions to become community college presidents. Although more women than ever are moving into the highest positions of leadership in community colleges, little qualitative information is available that describes their career development experiences. Traditional career development theory is inadequate for describing or predicting women's career development behavior. Researchers have identified the need for a theory of career development that accounts for the influences of gender-role socialization, multiple role responsibilities, and developmental learning to describe women's career choice behavior. This study used a qualitative multiple-case study approach. Five female community college presidents shared their career development stories through in-depth interviews. The participants in this study were all serving in their first presidency and were the first female presidents at their respective colleges. The conceptual model that emerged from this study illustrates the four components of the women's career development experiences. The first component, Formative Experiences, describes the background and early career experiences that influenced the women's career choice decisions. The second component, Key Developmental Experiences, describes the work roles, formal and informal learning, and mentoring experiences that helped the women gain technical and professional competence in community college administration. The third component, Multiple Role Challenges, describes the challenges of balancing family responsibilities with the demands of a career and the influence of those challenges on the women's career development. The fourth component, Career Achievement, describes the importance of work in the women's lives and their satisfaction in their roles as presidents. The key findings of this study indicate that socialization experiences, lack of exposure to female role models in nontraditional roles, mentors, formal and informal learning experiences, self-efficacy related to the performance of complex job responsibilities, and multiple role challenges were factors that influenced the women's career development. Four of the five women indicated that their ambition to become presidents developed gradually as they moved into increasingly complex work roles.
Date: 2003-07-07
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Higher Education Administration
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5236

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