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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Shattering the Glass: Exploring the Notion of Fit in the Hiring Process of First Women Presidents in Higher Education
by Foy, Theresa Chillianis, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2018, 233; 10828139
Abstract (Summary)

Higher education has a shortage of women presidents. While the percentage of women presidents has increased considerably from 10% in 1986 to 26% as of 2011, this percentage has stalled as White men continue to be hired into these positions at a far greater rate than any other demographic (American Council on Education, 2012). To achieve the goal of increasing the percentage of women presidents, higher education needs to attract more women candidates to consider the position, and more importantly, to create the conditions for interested, qualified women to ascend to the presidency.

With an overarching goal to understand how to increase the share of women presidents, the purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of women in the hiring process who are their institution’s first women presidents. The study also sought to understand how the board and search committee members consider institutional fit as a factor in the search and transition processes and to what extent their theories of fit reflect gender bias. The study employed qualitative methods and consisted of six case studies of women presidents and two or three members of the search committee from their hiring process, as well as the search firm executive retained in the search.

While each of the search processes studied was unique and the circumstances leading up the search were different, several themes emerged from the data: (a) the notion of fit is vague; therefore, the focus should be on technical skills, personality traits and communication style, and diversity; (b) presearch context shapes how search committees envision their next president, (c) certain desired personality traits are gendered and likely influence search committees to consider women; (d) the role of influencers are critical to the hiring of women presidents; and (e) presidential transitions are affected by the dynamics of the search. The results offer hiring authorities, women candidates, and search consultants tactics to support the advancement of more women into the president position.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Eckel, Peter
Commitee: Cartwright, Carol, Hartley, Matthew
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Administration
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Womens studies, Education
Keywords: Fit, Higher education, Hiring process, Leadership, Women firsts, Women presidents
Publication Number: 10828139
ISBN: 978-0-438-33896-8
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