Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Ogren, Christine A

Second Advisor

McNabb, Scott F

First Committee Member

Wanat, Carolyn L

Second Committee Member

Morphew, Christopher C

Third Committee Member

Whitmore, Kathryn F


Increasing numbers of women have gained access to college and the college teaching profession worldwide. However, women continue to be underrepresented in academic, research, and leadership positions. Women who have aspirations for top leadership positions still encounter numerous internal and external challenges. Existent literature on women administrators' career advancement in higher education also has revealed that in order to reach top positions, it is necessary that women leaders utilize available resources and strategies. Studies on women administrators' career advancement have focused primarily on female leaders or professors in Western universities. This study contributes to this scholarly knowledge by adding women leaders' voices from the East. I used a qualitative descriptive approach to investigate how eight women senior academic administrators in two public research universities in Indonesia navigated their way to leadership positions. I collected the data using two to three hours of interviews with each woman during the summer of 2009.

From the interviews, six themes emerged: (a) family is key in these women's efforts to manage tensions between professional and domestic roles, (b) support from the closest individuals was important in balancing the participants' multiple roles, (c) my participants' personal attributes helped them in accomplishing their responsibilities, (d) heavy workloads contributed to women's lack of aspiration to pursue top leadership positions, (e) institutional policies regarding promotion systematically favor men, and (f) women had to work harder to become leaders.

Findings of this study revealed that culture and religious beliefs distinctive to Indonesian contexts can facilitate or hinder women senior academic administrators' career advancement. Reflections of these women suggested that the strong support system in the Javanese culture helps women administrators in balancing their domestic and public roles. Socioeconomic status has affected women's career advancement as well. Women who have the means, resources, and assistance to accomplish their domestic roles are more likely to focus on their careers. Findings also indicated that women's religious beliefs affected how these women viewed their roles in public and at home and how they balanced their complex roles. All my participants agreed that women's God-given task is to be a mother and a wife. This belief served as a strong foundation as these women navigated their careers. They affirmed that women should not forego and neglect these roles when pursuing their careers. Despite their concern with women's low representation in top leadership positions, they agreed that policies designed solely to increase women's participation are not enough. They concurred that women had to work harder and showed strong determination to become leaders.


academic administrators, challenges, Indonesian universities, supports, women administrators


vii, 176 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 166-176).


Copyright 2012 Cecilia Titiek Murniati