Studies have shown that women are barred from securing influential position in the formal leadership (Rhode, 2003). This is ironical considering that women have the temperament to succeed in the leadership position. Women are subjected to public patriarchy, bias and obstacles in making their mark in the leadership position. History documents that women are not new to the leadership position and the luminous example of one such women is Harriet Tubman who was an abolitionist and is revere as a legend in the American history for her fearless personality. Despite such illustrations, it is found that the concentration of women in the leadership position is limited compared to their male counterparts. Male exclusionary tendencies, male practices and the leadership models inhibit the mobility of women in the influential positions in the organizational, institutional and the political seats (Dunn, Gerlach & Hyle, 2014). This leads to thee underrepresentation of women in the academic administration and in the workplace. According to Dunn, Gerlach, & Hyle, (2014), there is a limited number of women who serve in the high-ranking managerial roles and the more prestigious institutions and the research centres. A woman in the leadership position needs to prove her credibility in terms of her leadership skills, understanding and dispositions that would enable her to attain the leadership position and contribute to the existing gap in gendered leadership (Katuna, 2014). There is another aspect to this phenomenon, women are judged and scrutinized for their feminine features that are deemed incompatible with the administrative male standard of aggression, confidence, competence and arduousness. This leads to the woman being constructed as subordinate and inferior to men and women who perform the administrative roles are deemed as “too manly” and thereby flouting their gendered norms and rules (Fitzgerald, 2014)
The objective of the phenomenological research is to explore and ascertain the lived experience of women who are in the educational leadership position. The focus would be to elicit their perceptions about the dearth of women in key leadership and influential positions. The study would delve into the contributions of women in the corporate world and collate their contributions in the domain of leadership and the benefits they have brought to the organization and the society (Davis & Maldonado, 2015). This includes the dynamic system like the social norms, beliefs, values, principles, and cultures that have thwarted the mobility of women in securing important leadership position in the political, social and the economic arenas (Joseph-Collins, 2017). This would be beneficial for the researcher in understanding about the different factors that would influence women in securing the leadership in the domain of higher education. In juxtaposition to the earlier achievements of women, there have been considerable improvements in the condition of women (Flanagan, 2002). Therefore, the thrust of the study would be to understand the different factors that contribute to the gap existing in the leadership of men and women. The research would be committed to understanding the individual experiences of women in the higher educational administration and thereby understand their success. Another objective of the research would be to understand the dynamic systems that have empowered women to seek leadership positions. The study would be interested in delving into the following research questions:
RQ1. Do women mentorship programs influence women in attaining top leadership positions in higher education sector?
RQ2. What support do women need to attain successful careers as leaders?
RQ3. How is the representation of women in higher education leadership positions reflect about equality?
RQ4. What are the various factors motivating or limiting women in attaining top leadership positions in higher education?
Women are considered as great team players as they have eth ability to render attention to individual talent and turn into transformational leaders, this is very crucial aspect to each and every organization in this environment of uncertainty (Fine, 2009). According to Longman and Madsen women are likely to engage in open discussions and reviews of changes that facilitate robust decision-making. Women leaders can empower other women as they believe success is a team effort (Longman & Madsen, Longman 2014). According to Dunn, Gerlach & Hyle, (2014) women have the potential to become transformative leaders in organizations and academic institutions as their skills are much needed taking into consideration that the business environment is highly changing
Efficient leadership and confidence are traits that are imbibed with time, not many are born with these characteristics. Mentoring women is instrumental at all academic levels and at the work place. Scholars recommend that role models are important as they can show women how to advance irrespective of existing barriers. Mentoring and role models have been suggested as helpful for women’s advancement (Hill & Wheat, 2017).
Nature of the study
Given, the thrust of the research is to understand and explore the experiential reality of women in leadership position, a phenomenological research design has been created that would be suitable in responding to the research problem. The phenomenological research design would focus on the positive approaches and investigate in what ways the approach have motivated women to attain leadership position. The phenomenological research expounds on the events, experiences and the occurrences by putting minimum consideration to the physical and the external reality (Creswell, 2009; Smith et al., 2009). The sample population of the research would be selected carefully and purposefully that would put into consideration the expertise of the participant’s and their experience in leadership with the aim of collecting the best experiences from the participants (Jarmon, 2015). Data would be collected from the participants by sending them email request. This would be done with the view that the participants would be busy and sending an email would give them the time to decide on their schedule and at the same time save the cost and time for booking the appointments.
The qualitative nature of the study would be helpful in collecting the data and provide an in-depth and intensive understanding into phenomenon of gap in women in the leadership position. The qualitative research methods that would be used in collecting the data are personal intensive interviews, open-ended questionnaires, and observations. The open-ended questions would allow the participants to implement their knowledge without any hindrance of pre-imposed responses that thwart the articulations of the participants. This would enable the researcher in answering the research questions and therefore, meet the research objectives.
The research population of the study would be successful women in the higher education and leadership position and ascertain the multiple factors that have created impediments in attaining success. In this context, successful women would be those who have taken up leadership position or have ventured in to leadership positions. This study would deploy structured interviews as a mean of collecting the data where the research questions would be predetermined and all the participants would be answering similar questions. The researcher would be preparing a set of questions for the participants to answer through the application of their knowledge and skills. The questions in the interview will be similar to ensure that the results generated from the questions would be similar and consistent thereby aiding the researcher to make valid conclusions. The sample size of the interview would be fifteen to twenty. The secondary data collection would comprise of document analysis through websites, published documents and the reports (Patton, 2002).
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