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Women’s Leadership in Higher Education

Tue, June 9, 1:15 to 2:30pm, Asilomar Conference Grounds, Oak Shelter

Short Description

This presentation will share the results of a mixed methods study examining mentoring and the career paths of female presidents and provosts in higher education in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. While mentors assisted these women with their career path, having similar goals and serving as role models to mentees increased effectiveness.

Detailed Abstract

Women’s leadership was studied for the past three decades. In the beginning the experience was reviewed with a focus on comparing the leadership of males and females. Early researchers felt that women lacked the skills necessary to become effective leaders. Research studies shifted the focus to attributes of leadership and styles of leadership. It was found that women often favored a more transformational leadership style. Modern researchers tended to view women as superior to men. The gap in the literature between women lacking leadership skills to women being superior to men presented the need for more research in women’s leadership, the obstacles women encountered in their career journeys, and how to be proactive in assisting the next generation of women leaders. Women advanced to leadership positions in recent years, but still did not occupy elite leadership posts with strong representation. This mixed methods study examined mentoring and the career paths of female, elite leaders in higher education. Current college and university presidents and provosts were surveyed about their mentoring experience and interviewed about their career paths. The study found that women leaders related that mentors assisted them with their career path and mentors with similar goals and who served as role models increased the effectiveness of mentoring. The women stated that they did not consider gender to be a barrier in leadership rise. They felt that diversity was increasing at the time they were advancing in their careers. The study found that self-confidence, good communication skills, and motivating followers were important skills for today’s leaders.