Success traits of women vice presidents and deans in Catholic higher education

Linda Susan Tribuzio, Fordham University


The number of women administrators in upper-level positions in higher education and specifically Catholic higher education has increased but is not equal to the number of men in those positions. Despite these statistics, the number of women undergraduates in coeducational institutions of higher education is greater than that of men. The reasons for the difference in numbers are related to the fact that women have been evaluated in terms used to evaluate men when women bring different strengths to administrative positions. The media have fueled backlash to women's success when women are perceived to be achieving in areas that have been traditionally dominated by men. A lack of mentors, training, and confidantes has kept women from attaining upper-level administrative positions. Some of the same reasons that women do not attain such positions have also resulted in women leaving administrative positions before experiencing productive longevity. Productive longevity is defined as 5 or more years of success as evaluated by the woman administrator or by the woman and her supervisor. The study is a qualitative one in which 9 women Vice Presidents or Deans of Catholic coeducational colleges and universities were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. Five women had been in their positions for 5 or more years and reported personal or supervisor statements of success. Four women, also successful, had left their upper-level positions before 5 years of service. Triangulation, personal written statements, mission statements, supervisor evaluations, and field notes were employed to analyze each woman's testimony. A theme that emerged was the close, trusting relationship between the women who experienced productive longevity and their supervisors, men or women. An additional theme was that many of the women did not seek promotions but were recruited after successful service. Belenky et al.'s (1986) Stages of Knowing were used to categorize the status of individual women regarding their active or passive interaction with supervisors and those supervised.

Subject Area

School administration|Womens studies|Religion|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Tribuzio, Linda Susan, "Success traits of women vice presidents and deans in Catholic higher education" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9938920.