A study of the leadership behaviors and career paths of black and white female student service administrators in higher education

Robinette Mardella Dasher-Alston, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The primary purpose of this research study is to examine the leadership behaviors and career paths of black and white student service administrators. The careers of female administrators are impeded by a myriad of factors which hinder their professional development and advancement. Black women, in particular, face a number of obstacles as a result of their marginal status; ambiguity regarding the characterization of black women in society, gender and racial discrimination in the workplace, limited access to positions of authority, and a perception that black women lack adequate leadership skills.^ The research questions addressed in this study are: (1) Are there differences in the leadership behaviors exhibited by black and white student service administrators? (2) Are there differences in the leadership behaviors exhibited by junior and senior student service administrators, regardless of race? (3) Assuming these differences exist, what factors in the career paths of junior and senior administrators (black and white) may account for them?^ An exploratory research method was utilized to examine the leadership behaviors and career paths of 203 female student service administrators employed by four-year, private, predominantly white colleges and universities. The Leadership Opinion Questionnaire was used to assess the leadership behavior of the respondents, and a career path survey was utilized to yield data concerning their career experiences and personal background.^ Statistical analysis revealed that position-type was the most accurate predictor of structured leadership behavior. The data suggest that administrators who hold senior administrative positions are more likely to exhibit highly structured leadership behavior. When delineated by race, the data did not reveal a statistically significant association between race and leadership behavior. Gender discrimination, lack of an advanced degree, and family obligations were revealed as the primary barriers to career advancement.^ The study's results suggest that colleges and universities need to make a concerted effort to remove the barriers which impede the careers and leadership development of black and white women in higher education administration. Affirmative environments must be created and opportunities must be provided in order to promote and enhance their professional development. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Robinette Mardella Dasher-Alston, "A study of the leadership behaviors and career paths of black and white female student service administrators in higher education" (January 1, 1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI9200329.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9200329

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