Female senior student affairs officers at four-year public institutions: Pathways to advancement

Yettieve Angelina Marquez, Fordham University


Since the inception of Student Affairs, males have dominated senior level positions. While females are earning every degree type at a higher rate than their male counterparts, there are more women in entry and mid-level positions that often feel relegated to these roles as they seek advancement to a Senior Student Affairs Officer (SSAO) position. Whereas the gender gap has dramatically decreased over time at four-year private institutions, the largest gender gap within SSAO positions continues to exist at four-year public institutions. Using a phenomenological approach, this qualitative study explores the career trajectories of 15 current female SSAOs at four-year public institutions. The study examines factors that led to their success, challenges related to their gender, and advice given to females who aspire to obtain an SSAO position at a four-year public institution. Critical feminist theory was the theoretical framework used to undergird the study and to help examine gender inequalities. All women currently hold a Dean of Students, Assistant/Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, or Vice President of Student Affairs position at four-year public institutions within three states. Five themes arose from the data, culled from two series of semi-structured interviews and resume analysis: (a) educational and career trajectory patterns, (b) mentorship matters, (c) pathways to advancement, (d) roadblocks to the SSAO position, and (e) advice given. Findings related to why the largest gender gap persists at four-year public institutions were also discussed. Interpretations of the findings, limitations, and recommendations for future research and practice were shared.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Educational leadership|Womens studies|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Marquez, Yettieve Angelina, "Female senior student affairs officers at four-year public institutions: Pathways to advancement" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3621903.