How Women Community College Presidents Describe Their Career Pathways



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The purpose of this qualitative study was two-fold: (a) to determine the barriers women encounter as they pursue becoming a community college president; and (b) to identify the supports and career paths that are described as assisting women in obtaining the position of community college president. More specifically, emergent themes regarding the career paths, barriers and obstacles related to female presidents’ professional roles and responsibilities, and their strategies for success were sought in this study. This study is informative and inspirational to other women within the community college system who aspire to presidency positions as well as those who serve in leadership roles in all types of institutions. It is believed that the information that is gathered and shared will be used to inspire and assist women to continue along the path to become community college presidents.


A phenomenological research design was used to explore participants’ experiences in Texas. The process was meant to explore the phenomenon related to the experiences of female presidents. Data were collected through individual face-to face and phone interviews. A qualitative method of analysis was used to analyze the data collected around the experiences of the presidents as described to the researcher by the participants.


Findings from this study were explanations of experiences of community college presidents as they related to their own unique career pathways. Results included barriers and supports that the women encountered along the way, as well as the career paths they followed. Although every woman who participated in this study had a unique journey to and experience in the presidency, several similarities or themes were identified that bind these women together.

Aspiring women presidents need to be more open minded about relocating, sometimes out of state, to move into a college presidency. Although not always easy for some women, particularly those women who are part of dual career marriages, or who have children who have not yet graduated from high school, more women need to become open minded about the possibility of relocating if they are to attain the office of presidency.



Community college presidents, Female college presidents, Women in higher education leadership, Female community college presidents in Texas