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A qualitative study of women university presidents from dual -career families

Jodi L Cahalan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The number of women university presidents is on the rise, and a growing number of women presidents are married and have children. Although women university presidents have been studied in the past, much of the previous research concentrated on their experiences as they related to the work in academe. The purpose of this multi-case study was to examine the experiences of five U.S. university presidents who are members of dual career families in order to identify factors of success in achieving work and family goals, barriers and methods used to overcome these barriers, and how these women defined and worked toward attaining balance between their work and home lives. ^ The participants achieved success in their careers through meticulous dedication to their work. Likewise, the participants achieved success in their home lives through marriages that have lasted nearly 40 years and the raising of their children. They relied heavily on the support of their husbands and families and sacrificed time with their families in order to accommodate the careers they chose in administration. Compromises along the way, by everyone in the family, were many and ranged from help with household chores to spouses choosing to retire so that their wives could accept administrative positions which required a move. For the participants whose husbands did not retire, they resorted to maintaining separate households in order to accommodate the duelling dual careers. ^ Each of the participants was dedicated to carving time out of their work life for their husbands and families. Even though they were committed to doing so, they still felt varying degrees of imbalance in their work/home lives. Though they enjoyed the work of being university president, they recognized it as a powerful force that could consume every moment of their lives if they would allow it.^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Administration|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Cahalan, Jodi L, "A qualitative study of women university presidents from dual -career families" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3249673.