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More women are joining their male colleagues as higher education administrators. However, only a small percentage of these women possess an academic background as clinical laboratory scientists. This qualitative case study sought to investigate and document the career paths of women clinical laboratory scientists that have transitioned from the clinical setting to the higher education arena and held an administrative position at the dean’s level, including assistant and associate dean positions.
Through face-to-face semi-formal interviews, the experiences of this purposive sample population were recorded. Areas of inquiry included a description of their career paths; an identification of the skills, training, and/or professional development opportunities that enabled them to be successful higher education administrators; a description of the barriers and obstacles they have encountered; and how being a woman has influenced their experiences.
Three major themes emerged from this study relating to the career paths of these clinical laboratory scientists turned higher education administrators: Getting to the Right Place at the Right Time; The Right Navigational Skills are Required; and The Right Place Comes With a Price. Several categories were identified to support the themes. The results of this study were consistent with those found in the literature describing the opportunities, obstacles, and necessary components for women in higher education administration. The findings indicated that even though these women possessed an academic background in clinical laboratory science, their experiences paralleled those of women higher education administrators with degrees in other academic areas.
Possessing a doctoral degree, demonstrating competence and strong leadership skills, having a good role model and/or mentor, and displaying the ability to see the big picture were identified by this group of women as necessary requirements for obtaining and maintaining a position as a higher education administrator.
Advisor: Barbara Y. LaCost