Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


An Analysis of Leadership Styles and Practices of University Women in Administrative Vice Presidencies

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Robert DeBard (Advisor)


Effective leadership in institutions of higher education depends largely on the ability of the leader to balance the human and the economic sides of her or his responsibility (Birnbaum, 1988). In other words, the leader's ability to develop valuable relationships both within the institution and outside of campus, her or his ability to engage in complex thinking, and the ability to use multiple frames of reference to analyze problems are crucial to successful leadership within higher education. Being mindful of the importance of leadership in institutions of higher education, and of the increasing number of women leaders on campus, the aim of this study was to discover some of the factors that attribute to the success of women leaders on campus. Specifically, the researcher (1) surveyed the perceptions of current female Vice presidents (VPs) in nonacademic roles regarding the leadership styles and practices they use to lead their functional areas, (2) analyzed the impact of their educational, professional, and personal backgrounds on their success, and (3) gathered the perception of current women VPs about the road to successful leadership as advisable to future women leaders on campus. A survey instrument that included Bolman-Deal's Leadership Orientations Survey (SELF) (1990) (Section II), and Kouzes and Posner's Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI – SELF) (2003) third edition were used to collect information on the participants' leadership styles and practices. Information on various demographic variables was also collected to answer the research questions posed in the study. The results showed that, women VPs have more of a multi-frame leadership orientation than a single-frame one. Women VPs scored highest in the human resource frame (scores ranging from 2.00-4.00), followed by structural, symbolic, and political frames. Women VPs lead by the leadership practice of enabling others to act (scores ranging form 42-60), followed by modeling the way, encouraging the heart, challenging the process and inspiring a shared vision. Women VPs provided a variety of valuable advice to future women leaders in the academic professions. This advice covered areas of education, experience, skills, potential, self-determination, self-knowledge, responsibility, opportunity, ethics, values, vision, politics, strategy, power, collaboration and success, sexuality and lastly spouse, family, and friends. These findings are discussed in relation to previous research findings, and in terms of the strengths and weaknesses of these women leaders as applicable to effective leadership in institutions of higher education. Limitations of the study and recommendations for future research are also discussed.