Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Mike Vetter

Second Advisor

Dr. DJ Mitchell

Third Advisor

Dr. Courtney Keim


Even though women have made tremendous strides in many facets of education, ascending the administrative and leadership ranks within universities at a proportionate ratio to the number of women who peak as middle managers is not one of them. In the past 40 years, the number of women serving as presidents of universities across the nation has increased less than 10% from 21.1% in 1975 to 30.1% in 2016 (ACE, 2018). If a woman does find herself serving at the helm of an institution, it is more than likely at a “private, liberal arts schools rather than at doctoral granting, research, and comprehensive institution” due to the perceived male characteristics required for successful leading such institutions (Collins, 2009, p. 6). Therefore, an examination of those women serving in middle manager roles must be conducted. The purpose of this dissertation research is to dive into the lived experiences of women identifying, student affairs, middle managers in the hopes of gaining an enhanced understanding of their career aspirations and experiences. This phenomenological study is grounded in a modern feminist approach as well as motivational theory related to industrial organizational psychology. The study consists of 15 women identifying, student affairs, middle managers with terminal degrees. One interview lasting from one to two hours was conducted with each participant via Zoom. The interviews were recorded with permission and then transcribed. Two phases of coding emerged from the transcription data in order for themes to emerge. The hope is for this study to assist universities as well as senior level administrators in creating a more supportive environment and individually encouraging middle manager women, especially those with such aspirations, to seek advancement within the field.