The choice of the methodology is an important step that has to be taken in any research. This study will be based on a qualitative type of methodology that will be employed to achieve research goals. The purpose of the research study is to explore gender discrimination as an evident challenge for administrators in higher education. Human behaviors, decisions, and experiences should be described and evaluated in this research.
Statement of the Problem
- The overriding problem is that despite the evident domination of women in the existing educational service workforce, the number of men who perform the roles of academic leaders still prevails.
- The problem is found in many American public colleges and universities.
- The solution of the problem can be made with the help of direct communication with the representatives of higher education administration and academic board.
During the last century, female participation in the US labor force has undergone considerable changes and improved by governmental support. For example, the rights of women in their intentions to vote were identified through the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920, the ability to earn was defined by the Equal Pay Act in 1963, and the necessity to work under fair conditions were described in the Civil Rights Act in 1964 (Beaumont, 2016; Evans, 2016). The results of these legal steps determined the presence of women in different fields. In the 1990s, the number of women in the labor force was up to 60% (United States Department of Labor, 2017). However, at the beginning of the 2010s, this number was reduced up to 56% (United States Department of Labor, 2017). Though the field of education is usually preoccupied with female employees, only 27% of president positions in higher education institutions belong to women (Sutherland, 2017). Therefore, despite the evident domination of women in the existing educational service workforce, the number of men who perform the roles of academic leaders still prevails.
In addition to the fact that male administrators are frequently observed in American public colleges and universities, one says that women earn less money than their counterparts do. In 2016, women as higher education administrators could earn only 80 cents in comparison to every dollar earned by their male counterparts (Simon, 2017). At the same time, it is necessary to admit that the payment situation in the United States may vary according to the regions of the country and the age of women, showing that older women suffer from a serious pay gap compared to younger women (Seltzer, 2017). Regarding the presence of such differences and a variety of factors that influence working conditions and payments of women in higher education administration, it is suggested to use direct communication with women in the academic field and discover a solution to the problem of a gender gap in the academic board.
Purpose of the Study
- The purpose of this qualitative method study is to identify and describe gender discrimination in higher education administration.
- The participants in this study are the women who possess or want to possess administrative positions in higher education.
- The setting of the study is one of the currently working American public universities.
- The purpose of the study complements the problem statement because it helps to clarify what is known on the topic of gender discrimination in higher education administration and identify what can be done to change the situation and underline the importance of gender equality in the workplace.
The purpose of this qualitative method study is to identify and describe gender discrimination in higher education administration. Though a teaching profession is usually associated with women, the presence of such stereotypes deprives people of the opportunity to recognize a true state of affairs. Many leadership positions belong to men, and nothing is done to change the numbers and provide women with new options and opportunities. To investigate the gender gap in employment, it is expected to cooperate with women and gather their experiences and opinions. The participants in this study are the women who take or want to take administrative positions in higher education. The setting of the study should be one of the currently working American public universities.
The connection between the problem statement (the existing gender gap in higher education administration) and the purpose of the study (gender discrimination) is evident. The study will be used to prove that modern women continue suffering from unfair wages and opportunities in their intentions to succeed as administrators in higher education. Finally, it is not enough to prove the problem but to clarify what steps may be taken to support potential female administrators.
Conceptual. Theoretical Framework
- The study addresses a gap in the literature through the evaluation of several strong academic articles and statistical reports.
- The study will be situated within the feminist standpoint theory.
Feminist standpoint theory will guide this study. It was characterized as the second serious wave of feminism in the United States that was founded in the 1980s (Mosedale, 2014). The peculiar feature of this theory is that it does not have one particular author or founder. It was developed through the years and contributed to by several strong feminist theorists, including Dorothy Smith, Patricia Hill Collins, and Sandra Harding. The list of people involved in the development of this theory is not full, and it is necessary to admit that some contributors did not even know each other.
Therefore, this theory was introduced as a feminist epistemology. It was used to explain the causes of oppression of people according to their gender. Social objectivity was proved as a serious implication for knowledge production where the empowerment of women was an issue for consideration (Mosedale, 2014). In other words, according to the supporters of feminist standpoint theory, society is the root of knowledge.
This theory can be applied to the study with its attempt to understand what kind of oppression and inequality is experienced by women from several points of view. For example, social relationships between the representatives of both genders may vary, and stereotypes predetermine the positions that can be chosen by the participants. Sustainability in gender relations usually includes the impact of culture and human needs.
However, the current changes in the labor force and salaries prove that culture, needs, or social roles are not the only factors that should be taken into consideration in gender relations. This theoretical framework helps to understand what improvements in higher education administration can be made. Feminist standpoint theory covers the required human behaviors in the academic workplace where discrimination is the main phenomenon for discussion occurs.
In this study, qualitative research will be used as the main type of scientific research to answer research questions, gather evidence, develop findings, and consider the existing boundaries of the study. Due to its subjective nature, qualitative research can provide appropriate findings and explore human behaviors, decisions, and relationships (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). Qualitative research aims to provide complex descriptions of what is experienced by the participants, what they can do to change a situation, and what outcomes can be expected.
This type of research is effective because of the possibility to identify such factors as social norms, gender roles, or religion and understand better the reality of a given situation in a particular setting. In this study, the phenomenon is gender discrimination in higher education administration. Many tools can be applied to this study, and interviews help to gather qualitative information through a list of open-ended questions sent online (Maxwell, 2009). Personal histories, experiences, and opinions can be used to discuss such a sensitive topic as gender discrimination among administrators in higher education.
A phenomenological study with the phenomenon of gender inequality in higher education administration as the unit of analysis is the selected design that is appropriate for the study. Interviews will be conducted via email. Participants will be asked about their job roles, the impact of status at the workplace, and the presence/absence of gender issues in education. The main task of participants is to respond to the questions, and a researcher has to analyze the data offered.
Today, many people congregate online, and the use of online tools in research turns out to be a justified and easy to access research method. It is necessary to remember that email interviews cannot be implemented as possible reproduction of traditional face-to-face interviews (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). There are many benefits of online interviewing, including the elimination of time and space boundaries, the reduction of costs, and the promotion of participants’ comfort. Participants can use their computers to answer questions any time they want or can regarding the deadline discussed with a researcher. Researchers, in their turn, are free to contact any participant that meets research inclusion criteria despite their current geographical location and accessibility. There is no need to spend money on traveling to reach a participant or transcribe interviews (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). Finally, when participants get a chance to answer all questions at home or another place where they feel comfortable, they may share more helpful information and give enough examples and explanations.
Email interviews are valid for this study because of the possibility to plan each step and provide appropriate deadlines and conditions to give answers and evaluate gathered information. The creation of interview questions should be based on the main concepts identified in this study and used in future content analysis to answer the central and supportive research questions. The worth of email interviews in a phenomenological study is based on thorough interaction reflection on all questions posed and answers given. However, a researcher should also remember that email interviews are not always easy to conduct. There are certain limitations like the lack of social interaction, the inability to check if the participants are who they say they are, and the necessity to have Internet access and sufficient writing, literacy, and technological skills (Bowden & Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). The success of email interviews is determined by the level of preparation that can be developed by the researcher.
First, it is necessary to promote a rapport with potential participants and provide them with necessary information about interviews, the goals of the study, their roles and impact, and the conditions under which answers should be given. Creswell and Creswell (2017) admit that the creation of a rapport may be supported by existing literature and statistics to prove the urgency of the research problem and the necessity to find a solution. The second step in email interviewing is the development of appropriate questions. It is not enough to make a list of questions and send them to participants. A researcher has to develop each question carefully, analyzing possible answers and the worth of given information. Finally, each interview has to be properly ended with enough explanations offered to every participant, words of gratitude, and promotion of anonymity and confidentiality.
In general, email interviews help to meet the purpose of this study and discuss the research problem based on gender inequality in higher education and the necessity to change the situation in academic administration. The insights of participants should prove or disprove the existence of the problem. Thus, the analysis of their answers can be used to develop an effective solution.
A qualitative study is based on one central research question that is supported by a few sub-questions the aim of which is to describe the cases of gender discrimination in higher education.
The research questions guiding this study are:
- What are the transformations that can be offered to public universities to achieve gender equality across administrators and leaders in higher education? (main question)
- How do educational leaders and administrators articulate the examples of gender inequality in higher education settings?
- How do educational administrators define the impact of gender inequality in higher education?
- Are there any other factors that may influence the growth of gender discrimination in higher education administration?
- What is the impact of feminism in the discussion of gender inequalities in higher education?
- What are the best higher education practices to deal with the issue of gender discrimination?
- Are university leaders and administrators ready for new practices and steps to eliminate the problem of gender inequality?
- What factors can play an important role in the establishment of fair and equal relationships between both genders in higher education administration?
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Mosedale, S. (2014). Women’s empowerment as a development goal: Taking a feminist standpoint. Journal of International Development, 26(8), 1115-1125.
Seltzer, R. (2017). 80 cents on the dollar. Inside Higher Ed. Web.
Simon, C. (2017). There’ a double gender gap in higher education – and here’s why. USA Today College. Web.
Sutherland, A. (2017). Higher education institutions reflect gender inequality. The State Press. Web.
United States Department of Labor. (2017). Women in the labor force: A databook. Web.