Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Keels Williams, Frankie


Of the 114 accredited architecture programs within colleges and universities across America, only 18 (or 16%) employ females at the highest administrative positions as deans, directors, chairs, or heads. Despite this statistic, nearly 50% of all graduates from architecture programs are female. Little is known about women administrators in architectural education, perhaps because of the fact that there are so few.
The central question that guided this research study is as follows: What personal and professional factors characterize 10 women employed as administrators in nationally accredited architecture programs, departments, schools, and colleges in American institutions of higher education? Additionally, this study identified the women's career paths, characteristics they believe aided them in their advancement as well as in their current work, sacrifices they made in order to advance and as a result of their current work, their current work responsibilities, and their future aspirations.
Qualitative research methods were employed for this study. Specifically, the collective case study tradition (Creswell, 2003) was utilized in order to obtain thick, rich descriptions of the cases. Ten women administrators of accredited architecture programs, departments, schools, and colleges within American institutions of higher education participated in the study. Each woman held the title of dean, director, head, or chair. Interviews, documents, and observations were collected and included in the data analysis.
Within-case analyses were conducted for each participant, followed by a cross-case analysis, in which major themes emerged and characterized the 10 women. While feminist leadership theories were used as a lens and guided the current research, themes emerged from the study that point toward a potentially new, emerging theoretical construct. This new, emerging potential construct requires that pioneering female leaders in male-dominated fields be characterized differently than female leaders in other contexts.
Five conclusions are presented that relate to the themes that emerged for each secondary research question. The five conclusions were drawn based on the research findings. The conclusions describe the common characteristics of the women and are summarized as follows: (1) Pioneers; (2) Unwavering Ambition in the Face of Obstacles; (3) Employ Post-heroic Leadership Style; (4) Oftentimes Prioritize Career over Family, and (5) Committed to the Architecture Profession.



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