Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Jiangang Xia

Second Advisor

Katherine Wesley

Date of this Version



A dissertation presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education)

Under the supervision of Professors Jiangang Xia and Katherine Wesley

Lincoln, Nebraska, May 2024


Copyright 2024, Amy Barry


This qualitative study is an exploration of how women in higher education information technology (IT) positions navigate constructing their leadership identities. This includes the messy, personal, internal identity work that occurs prior to claiming their leadership identities on the public stage, followed by an examination of what the experience of attempting to claim and negotiate a leadership identity is like in the social context of their organizations. This educational and sociological study employs an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach with a series of three interviews per participant that allowed the researcher to deeply explore the personal identity experiences of participants. Findings reveal that women in IT experience challenges that can hinder their ability to successfully claim and establish a leadership identity. Women in IT and IT organizations will benefit from the knowledge generated in this study.

Advisors: Jiangang Xia and Katherine Wesley