Woman Trustees: Finding A Voice For Their Unique Perspective in The Governance of Higher Education

April 4th, 2014 by webmaster

By: Ricki R. Garrett, Ph.D., Cohort 3

Historically, woman have not played a significant role in governance of higher education. Despite the fact that woman now compromise more than 50% of those participating in higher education in the United States, they are still underrepresented on boards of trustees (Anderson, 1993; Dotherow, 2000; Dika & Janosik, 2003). There has been little research on the leadership roles that women trustees assume on their board and the contribution they make in those positions.

This grounded theory research focuses on the experience of woman trustees of public higher education boards, both system and individual institution boards, who have served as the chair of board. The role of women in the governance of higher education was categorized into six areas: (1) experiences that women have in common, (2) barriers to appointment as trustees, (3) the primary areas of interest and focus, (4) the barriers to service of key committees and the leadership of the board, (5) the impact of backgrounds, and (6) the contributions female trustees provide to the board through their leadership.

The data was further divided into sub categories, and then the relationships among the categories were determined. Out of those interrelationships, a core category was determined. In essence, the contributions that the participants believe that they have made to their boards are due, in large measure, to the experiences such as their relationship building, collaborative leadership and desire of consensus, their empathetic and nurturing nature, and their preparedness all translate into tangible and rewarding benefits for their boards and for the institutions that they govern. However, in some measures, they also contribute to the barriers that woman face in terms of appointment, service, and leadership, to misperception by their male colleagues, and in some cases, detractors from the work of the board.

Posted in Student Research