Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

A woman's journey: Navigating through a higher education career

Tina C Oelke, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


History has shown that women have made strides in gender equality in higher education. Even though women are more likely to enter into college and complete degrees, they are underrepresented in administrative levels of higher education institutions. Eighteen women presidents of master’s level institutions as classified by the 2015 Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education were interviewed. The purpose of this study was to examine how women leaders of higher education institutions navigated through expected and unexpected experiences to achieve their administrative positions. The presidents shared their journeys to the presidency, to include their expected and unexpected experiences, the influential people they encountered, and experiences with gender subtleties. This narrative study uses Eagly and Carli’s labyrinth (2007) as a conceptual framework, allowing the presidents’ stories to have a voice. The emergent themes indicated that their journeys were complex, influential people were often pivotal in their professional development, and although strategies were developed to overcome gender subtleties, imbalances were still noticed. This research provides an opportunity for women who aspire to be presidents to learn from those who have successfully navigated the journey.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Oelke, Tina C, "A woman's journey: Navigating through a higher education career" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10195916.