Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Entry and Transition to Academic Leadership: Experiences of Women Leaders from Turkey and the U.S

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Entry and Transition to Academic Leadership: Experiences of Women Leaders from Turkey and the U.S

Article excerpt

Abstract

Academics who aspire to become academic leaders experience a number of changes as they move into administration. New academic leaders find themselves immersed in a transition that demands personal development and creates new learning settings. The purpose of this study is to examine initial challenges experienced by women academic leaders in the first years of their appointment. A qualitative research design was used in conducting this study, and female leaders' voices are heard throughout the piece. 24 women leaders working at universities from two countries constituted the study group. 12 participants from Istanbul, Turkey and 12 participants from Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. constituted the voices of women leaders in the study. Being an academic leader may bring many challenges and the leader faces the greatest extent during the transition stage. This study specifically focuses on women academic leaders and aims to see how women academic leaders can overcome the constraints encountered at the transition stage. The study reveals that initial challenges felt and experienced during the transition stage are similar in two countries. The theme of "transition to academic leadership" involved the following subthemes: "Entry to the academic leadership and adjustment, fit with the institution and maintaining balance, overcoming resistance and interpersonal relations." The theme of overcoming initial challenges is composed of the following sub themes: "communities of practice, mentor and role models and leadership training."

Key Words

Academic Leadership, Higher Education, Administration, Initial Challenges, Transition to Leadership, Leadership Development.

Academics who aspire to become deans experience a number of changes as they move into administration. New academic leaders find themselves immersed in a transition that demands personal development and creates new learning settings (Wolverton & Gmelch, 2002). Korkut (1992) contends that academic leaders' entry into administrative positions entails the power of the position and status. Nevertheless, in time, the authority of academic leaders is accepted as they acquire social and technical skills in addition to attending to their formal responsibilities. This has become all the more important in the last decade, when middle management has come to play an ever more central role in ensuring the overall and long-term welfare of institutions of higher education. Rather than having a single leader, as was often the case in traditional higher education, multiple leaders have emerged in response to the increasingly diversified needs of contemporary higher education institutions. Provosts, deans, associate deans, and department chairs have accordingly become more influential and vocal within this new paradigm. This study defines people holding all of these administrative positions as academic leaders since they have the potential to transform their institutions while having a significant influence on their teams.

College deans engage in academic, administrative, and operational activities. Deans engage in these managerial endeavors to maintain consistency in their faculties and such duties occupy most of their time. However, with the challenges brought by the changing times, deans are increasingly expected to go further, namely, to reflect upon how their endeavors impact upon their faculties' and colleges' future. This underlines the importance of deans as leaders (Wolverton & Gmelch, 2002).

With regard to the particular situation of women leaders in higher education, much of the extant literature emanating from Europe and the US focuses on women's often painful accounts of the challenges they have faced (Brown, Ummersen & Sturnick, 2001; Chliwniak, 1997; Nidiffer, 2000; Schwartz, 1997; Turner, 2007; Twombly, 1998; Wolverton, Wolverton & Gmelch, 1999). It was asserted that there are no instant solutions to the problems most deans face most of the time (Tucker & Bryan, 1991). …

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