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Vol. 35 (2015)

To Lead or Not to Lead: Women Achieving Leadership Status in Higher Education

  • Marsha BlackChen
June 16, 2017


The purpose of this article is to continue the dialogue and examine the exclusionary practices, and tenets on women as leaders in higher education. Too often women are left out of leadership positions in higher education, which engenders the perception or reality of these positions being androcentric. Women have also been faced with the daunting task of following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, and their experiences are never the same, because culturally and structurally, decisions are made differently. Higher education therefore needs to examine the value placed on female leaders, as theoretically, female leaders have been found to possess the various types of leadership qualities in order to be considered good leaders. These areas establish credibility, as we begin to examine the requisite ingredients of leadership. Women's representation in colleges and universities throughout the world is on the rise, and is increasingly approaching the gender parity of 50 percent (Bradley, 2000).
Importantly, in the United States of America, more women are expected to occupy college professor's position, as they represent 58 percent of young adults between the ages of 25 to 29, many of who hold an advanced degree (U.S. Census Bureau News, 2011). These phenomenal strides are important to recognize. The argument is put forward that attitudinal and organization biases against women in higher education tend to exclude women from upper-level leadership positions. Therefore, the author examines theoretical underpinnings of the different approaches to leadership, as well as the cultural and structural conditions and practices that create barriers to, and opportunities for the advancement of women in higher education.