Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 1, 2013

Fitting In: Community College Female Executive Leaders Share Their Experiences—A Study in West Texas

Kristina Gill and Stephanie J. Jones


Women who move into and work within administration in higher education face many struggles. Both the traits that are specific to most females and their leadership style can impede their rise into and within administrative ranks. In addition, higher education has traditionally been a hierarchical and patriarchal system that makes it more difficult for women to advance into administrative positions.

Over the past few decades, women have been making significant increases in community college administration. Community colleges have been more accepting of women both as students and as faculty; and now, they are leading higher education in reaching gender parity in administration. Across the nation, women hold over 50 percent of the executive/administrative and managerial positions in community colleges. In contrast to the national numbers, women in West Texas are in the minority as administrators in community colleges. Using a naturalistic inquiry and case study format, this study investigated environmental factors in West Texas community colleges that contribute to the marginalization of four women in leadership roles. In addition, the study also investigated the perceived leadership style and the mentorship opportunities of these women. This research gives access to the success stories of women in community college administration. The stories of these women serve as models for other women wanting to move into the administrative ranks of community colleges.

The authors wish to thank Dr. Valerie O. Paton and Dr. Margaret Price from Texas Tech University for their intellectual contributions to this research study

Published Online: 2013-02-01

© 2013 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.