Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version


Document Type



Tenney, A.L.S. (2014). Struggling to advance beyond mid-level positions: Mentoring women leaders in student affairs. (Master's Thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A THESIS presented to the faculty of the graduate college at the University of Nebraska for partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration. Under the supervision of Debra Mullen. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Ashley L.S. Tenney


This qualitative study explores the mentoring relationship of women in senior student affairs officer (SSAO) positions. Five women in SSAO positions were interviewed, sharing their experiences in being mentored throughout their careers in the student affairs profession. The five participants are employed at public higher education institutions in the west and midwest regions of the United States. The literature review discusses women in higher education, the student affairs profession, and mentoring relationships. Kram (1983) detailed the four phases of mentoring relationships; which was utilized in this research to further explore mentoring relationships that women SSAO have experienced throughout their careers in student affairs.

Through a semi-structured interview protocol, qualitative interviews were conducted in the 2013 fall semester. The five participants shared stories on the mentoring relationships they have had while in entry, mid, and senior level positions in student affairs. Mentoring relationships assisted participants as they pursued various positions and opportunities in their careers. Findings indicated the mentoring relationships that women in SSAO positions have are influential in the field of student affairs as they advance in their careers.

Advisor: Debra Mullen