School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Kristy Motte


Higher education, women leadership, retention, student affairs, career development


Higher Education


The purpose of this grounded theory study was to develop a model for a career development program for entry-level student affairs (SA) women professionals based on the lived experiences of current mid-level SA professionals and senior-level SA professionals. As new women professionals pursue their careers in SA, they must navigate many barriers and require support and guidance to overcome each obstacle. This study sought to answer the following research questions: (a) What necessary components do student affairs departments need to retain entry-level women’s professionals related to a career development model? (b) What components are needed for an entry-level professional woman to enter the field of student affairs? (c) What components are needed for entry-level student affairs professional women to master the position? (d) How do entry-level student affairs professionals know they are ready to persist in the field? To answer these questions, the researcher collected data through individual interviews with entry-level SA women professionals and mid to senior-level SA professionals and a focus group with mid, and senior-level SA professionals. The data collected were analyzed through open, focus, and theoretical coding to generate a model for a leadership program to higher education institutions. This study found that three essential phases are vital throughout an entry-level SA women professional first five years within the field. As a result, the three phases and components were integrated into a career development model for departments and institutions to utilize.