School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Patricia Ferrin


community college, gender-based prejudices, leadership, barriers, women


Educational Leadership


The purpose of the qualitative transcendental phenomenological study aimed to understand the gender-based prejudices and obstacles and barriers for women pursuing senior leadership roles at community college in Texas. The Role Congruity Theory of Prejudice toward Female Leaders, plays an essential part in understanding how women were perceived when in a leadership position, guides this study. Semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and letter writing were conducted with 14 women who had achieved senior-level administration roles at a community college. By horizontalizing, reducing, and ultimately determining a composite structural description or substance of participants' experiences, Moustakas' phenomenological analysis method was used to analyze the data, which resulted in the collection of a complete textual description. Results of the study indicated that the majority of women in the study experienced barriers to senior leadership, including wage gaps and gender differences. Women were also found to be transforming their leadership practices, enabling them to move into or obtain new roles efficiently, and making significant contributions to their organizations. To achieve greater success and advancement, women in higher education administration need to continuously overcome workplace barriers such as inequalities, salary gaps, and gender disparities. This study was able to inform the educational community and highlight the impact of gender inequities, biases, and barriers that exist. It also provided institutions with an opportunity to examine their own cultures and institutional traditions that may contribute to such issues. Women need to own their strengths and skills and open doors for others in the field still challenged by historic and social perspectives that women have to work harder to achieve a place of 'legitimacy' in leadership.