Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2021

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena P. Suarez-Sousa


pathways, females, highest administrative positions in education


There has been an historically ongoing problem of the underrepresentation of females in the highest administrative positions in education in the United States of America and globally. The participants of this research study included a small mixed-race sample of 37 female university and college presidents and superintendents of school districts across the state. The study utilized a mixed-methods concurrent triangulation design.

Based on an extensive literature review, a questionnaire was developed and sent to female presidents and superintendents in a Midwestern state that assessed their perceptions of the role played by factors identified in the current literature as having contributed or challenged the pathway to their current positions. The possible solutions to the underrepresentation of women in the topmost educational administrative positions were also explored. Concurrently, female university and college presidents were invited to participate in a 60 minute in-person interview in order to explore these issues more deeply. Nine presidents agreed to participate in the in-person interviews.

Findings indicated that the qualitative data aligned with the quantitative data in general terms. Future general recommendations for practice included similar studies conducted in other regional areas of the United States, and possibly abroad. This research could provide implications for institutions of higher education for insights into the underrepresentation of women in presidency roles, and potential benefits of impacting educational institutions and systems. Recommendations for females are provided in this study which included learning from the pathways of presidents and exploring possible solutions to the underrepresentation of women in these positions.



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