Factors that influence the career development of Mississippi community college female administrators

Sharon Eubanks Rouse


Despite the importance of the community college female administrative position contributions to the community college system, they have traditionally received little scholarly or professional. recognition. The purpose of this study was to investigate career paths frequently used by females in Mississippi community college administration, examine barriers and contributors to female progression, and determine whether racial or ethnic differences were related to factors influencing career progression. Kanter's (1977) theory of behavior in organizations guided this investigation and Rassi's (1995) study of female administrators at a multi-campus community college in the South of Florida was replicated. The population (N = 101) for this study consisted of female administrators in all fifteen of Mississippi's community and junior colleges. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data. The instrument consisted of Likert-type scale items and closed and open-ended questions. Analysis of the data demonstrated that females in community college administration cluster around the bottom of the hierarchy in traditionally female departments in a time-in- line method. Most female administrators were in director positions. Social-cultural conditions reported by female administrators in Mississippi's community colleges that exist in their organization included serving as nurturers, having less power, and being less influential with their superiors' decisions than their male colleagues. Females in Mississippi's community colleges identified formal education, willingness to take risks, and prior administrative experience as being the most significant contributors toward career progression. Females perceived "old boys network," college politics, and family/spouse commitments as barriers to their career progression. This study demonstrated that the organizational structure and environment have the capacity to influence the behaviors and experiences of women within organizations, affecting female numbers, positions, and power. The findings, therefore, support Kanter's structural theory of behavior in organizations.