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This phenomenological study explores how several women in leadership roles within higher education administration navigate the overlapping crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased social unrest in America during 2020. As a result of decades of discrimination towards women, there exists a gendered gap in leadership roles within higher education administration. The goal of this study is to highlight the ways women who have ascended to leadership roles in higher education administration persist, especially during this unique time of crisis. Collected through semi-structured interviews and viewed through an intersectional feminist lens, the data led to the emergence of the following categories of findings: leadership characteristics, which includes leading with compassion, leading by example, and leading through partnership; “trained for this” which includes athletics, teams, and role modeling as well as knowing the possibilities and acting; and lastly, mission alignment and fit. The findings from this study provide insight into how women in higher education administration lead in times of crisis and lessons for effective leadership, regardless of a leader’s gender, during future crises.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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“We are going to be okay”: Women* Senior Administrators in Higher Education during Times of Crisis

This phenomenological study explores how several women in leadership roles within higher education administration navigate the overlapping crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased social unrest in America during 2020. As a result of decades of discrimination towards women, there exists a gendered gap in leadership roles within higher education administration. The goal of this study is to highlight the ways women who have ascended to leadership roles in higher education administration persist, especially during this unique time of crisis. Collected through semi-structured interviews and viewed through an intersectional feminist lens, the data led to the emergence of the following categories of findings: leadership characteristics, which includes leading with compassion, leading by example, and leading through partnership; “trained for this” which includes athletics, teams, and role modeling as well as knowing the possibilities and acting; and lastly, mission alignment and fit. The findings from this study provide insight into how women in higher education administration lead in times of crisis and lessons for effective leadership, regardless of a leader’s gender, during future crises.

 

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