Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Shaffer, D. Stephen

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


This research explores the barriers that have hindered women?s ability to acquire top administrative positions in higher education in the Deep South. Previous studies document the fact that while more women are attending college nationally, far fewer women attain upper level administrative positions at their universities than do men. Sexism and family/work conflicts are known hindrances in women?s ability to assume key leadership roles in higher education. This research examines women?s perceptions of such obstacles in achieving top administrative positions at public universities in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Women administrators and women who are full and associate professors at both traditionally white and historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) were surveyed on their attitudes and perceptions of barriers affecting the representation of women in administrative and upper administrative positions. This research indicates that women largely believe that men are the key decision makers at their universities. However, contrary to my hypotheses, for those women faculty and administrators surveyed who believe that there are no barriers for women in achieving administrative or upper administrative posts, many of them state they have no intention in seeking higher positions. My research findings also reveal that finances is the primary motivator for many women faculty and administrators in moving up the administrative ladder. Women faculty and administrators with financially dependent families and those who simply desire to make more money state that they would seek administrative and upper administrative positions. Further, those women faculty members and administrators who perceive their institution as having familyriendly policies and practices indicated that they are not inspired to achieve an administrative or upper administrative position based on that factor.



Deep South||Glass Ceiling||Higher Education||Administration