Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Increasing the Number of Women Administrators in Kinesiology and Beyond: A Proposed Application of the Transformational Leadership Model

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Increasing the Number of Women Administrators in Kinesiology and Beyond: A Proposed Application of the Transformational Leadership Model

Article excerpt


In higher education in the United Stales, women are often underrepresented in leadership positions. When women try administration, they face a higher rate of attrition than their male counterparts. Given the lack of women in leadership positions and the failure of the academy to retain women administrators, a group of women administrators and faculty with many collective years of experience in higher education assembled to write this paper. Our writing group consisted of 2 Chairs, 2 Deans, 1 Associate Dean, 2 pre-tenure faculty members, and a Provost, representing four different institutions. The authors of this paper suggest that applying the proposed model of transformational leadership within the field of Kinesiology may have a twofold benefit. It may increase the number of women in administrative positions and it may extend how long women choose to serve in an administrative capacity. Components of the model include developing personal and professional characteristics that motivate faculty to perform beyond expectations, and understanding gender-related and kinesiology-specific challenges of administration. In addition, recommendations are made for pursuing careers in administration, and for pursuing future research projects. We hope that through this paper, we have started an important and open discussion about women in leadership roles, and ultimately, encouraged some prospective leaders to consider a career in higher education administration.


Listed below are scenarios commonly encountered by a Chair of a department or a Dean in areas related to Kinesiology in the United States of America. First, several members of a department bypass the Chair and approach the upper administration about splitting the department into "basic" and "applied" science disciplines. Some, but not all, faculty members feel that the department will be better served by having "like minds who understand each other" and "grant writing teams that have similar interests and goals." Or, picture a faculty member involved in a job search who fails to inform the Chair or Dean of interest in another job--until the job offer is made. It is not uncommon for a Chair or Dean to be challenged to realign budget allocations to realize strategic opportunities. Finally, imagine a Chair of a department being told that her voice inflections sound "less powerful" than they should. These scenarios are commonly faced by leaders in Kinesiology--whether they are male or female. As illustrated in these examples, the challenges of leadership are becoming more complex and the stakes are getting higher.

Given these complex and demanding challenges of leadership in the contemporary college or university, it is increasingly important to hire and retain effective leaders in the academy. Colleges and universities with weak leadership often miss opportunities and suffer considerable human carnage as a result of inflexibility, inefficiency, arrogance, manipulation, and intimidation (Bogue, 1985). Ideally, leaders in the academy should strive for balance based on gender, ethnicity, age, and even academic rank. In order to achieve this goal, institutional leadership from all levels must actively seek to diversify both student and faculty populations. While some progress has been made in hiring female administrators, this is an area in which more effort is needed. Once female administrators are employed, steps should be taken to ensure that they receive the mentoring and support required to be successful.

Although it varies somewhat by discipline, relatively equal numbers of male and female doctoral graduates seek employment in the academy (Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, 2004). Despite equal numbers of male and female doctoral graduates, there are unequal numbers of men and women in the U.S. who are hired, tenured, and promoted from Assistant to Associate or from Associate to Full Professor (Niemeier & Gonzalez, 2004). …

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