Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Narrative Inquiry on Professional Identity of Female Mid-Level Administrators Through the Lens of Systems-Centered Theory’s® (SCT) Goal/Role/Context
by Smith, Kristen, Ed.D., Mills College, 2020, 151; 28023113
Abstract (Summary)

Women continue to encounter gender-based barriers to success in the workplace. Structural or organizational obstacles such as stereotyping, lack of access to mentors and double-binds contribute to the hurdles women strive to overcome. Personal obstacles such as decreased sense of belonging, impostor syndrome and tamped down ambition also act as barriers around which women must navigate during their working life. This study explored the career paths of four (4) mid-level female administrators in higher education to understand and make meaning from their lived experiences by examining factors that contributed to their professional identity development. The study contributes to the body of extant literature on mid-level female administrators in higher education.

In conjunction with Critical Feminist Theory, the theoretical framework of Goal, Role, Context® by Yvonne Agazarian was used as a lens by which to view the data to determine whether it could be applied as a potential tool women can utilize to navigate around barriers and align with and achieve goals. Goal, Role, Context, a basic principle of Systems-Centered Theory®, encapsulates the idea that by attending to the various goals of groups and individuals, group members clarify their roles as pertains to a particular context. This role clarity supports members to be at choice in aligning with individual and organizational goals.

Findings indicated that the participants’ professional identity included characteristics of leaders such as being ambitious, motivated, ethical and credible. An additional finding was that Goal, Role, Context could meaningfully be applied by individuals to their particular contexts as a tool to navigate barriers. The study was concluded with recommendations for future research including continued application of Goal, Role, Context in future studies in higher education, expanded exploration of factors that impede women from claiming their leadership identity and perceptions of women as lacking in vision and strategic mindset.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nava, Pedro
Commitee: Wright, Dana, Argelia, Lara
School: Mills College
Department: Education - Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational administration, Educational leadership, Womens studies, Higher education
Keywords: Higher Education Administration, Systems-Centered Theory, Women Administrators
Publication Number: 28023113
ISBN: 9798672127521
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