Date of Award

5-2012

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Higher Education Leadership

Advisor

Elizabeth Allan

Second Committee Member

Susan Gardner

Third Committee Member

Sandra Caron

Abstract

Research indicates that work-life integration is linked with career satisfaction for women administrators in higher education. This study focuses on mid-level women leaders who are an essential component of higher education organizations. Employing a qualitative design that drew upon phenomenological methods, I explored the work-life integration experiences of 12 mid-level women leaders in a community college system in the Northeastern United States. I sought to understand if the gendered “ideal worker” norm was prevalent in the work-life integration experiences of these mid-level women leaders. Emergent themes in this study helped to fill gaps in previous research by offering a tentative framework for understanding specific characteristics that may increase successful work-life integration for women mid-level leaders in a community college setting and may serve to impact the institutional culture favorably, thereby reducing the “ideal worker” norm. The data gathered from both individual and focus group interviews with 12 participants yielded new knowledge about those participants’ experiences and had implications for practice. The following themes emerged in the findings: Work-life integration: interpersonal and intrapersonal perspectives-early life experiences, informal support networks, the tug of work and home, and how a crisis may create a healthier work-life integration; Work-life integration: and the “ideal worker” norm: institutional and societal perspectives-growing pains, students make the difference, gender and work- life integration, and the changing landscape of the American working family; Resiliency and the use of agency: favorable indicators of work-life integration- impermeable and permeable boundaries, support mobilization, and perseverance and adversity.

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