Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Russ Marion

Committee Member

Leslie Gonzales

Committee Member

James Satterfield

Committee Member

Suzanne Price


As institutions become more diverse among the student body, minority faculty and staff are recruited to better support underrepresented students. However, while much thought is often placed in recruitment efforts, institutions often fail to execute appropriate retention efforts of their minority faculty and staff (Turner, Gonzalez & Wood, 2008). Due to this, underrepresented women often find themselves faced with many barriers and lack of resources needed to successfully transition into new roles and environments (Harris, Wright & Msengi, 2011; Jackson & Harrison, 2007; Maramba, 2000). The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of underrepresented women in student affairs by examining the network structure and the interactions individuals have with different entities within the organization. The goal of this study was to understand what experiences underrepresented women have that help them effectively engage and successfully integrate to a Predominately White Institution. The study looked at relationships across the network and shared resources and tasks to gain understanding of the student affairs network. Complexity leadership theory and intersectionality were used as theoretical frameworks to inform the study and dynamic network analysis was the chosen methodology for this study. A purposeful sample of student affairs employees at a mid-size, four-year, public, southeastern university was selected. 81.7% (n=101) responded to the survey. The data collected was analyzed using network measure and visualization tools available in the ORA software. QAP analyses were also conducted to understand the influence of beliefs on inclusion and mission of the organization on professional and social relationship networks, resource capability, position in the network, and underrepresented agents in the network. Findings show that underrepresented women are involved in reciprocal relationships with informal leaders in the network, hold informal leadership roles and attend social and diversity related events to connect with other people. The results indicate that leaders within student affairs should examine the environmental conditions present in the organization and recognize the impact these conditions have on underrepresented women. Furthermore, leaders should focus on creating dynamics that foster engagement and access for underrepresented women.



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