Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Frankie Santos Laanan

Second Advisor

Sharon K. Drake

Third Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


There is a paucity of research about the experiences of women from working-class families who become faculty or administrators in higher education institutions. Most research and literature about the experiences of female faculty and administrators focus on those women who work in four-year college and university settings. This phenomenology focused on the experiences of nine working-class women who are faculty and administrators at a large, Midwestern, multi-campus community college. The participants shared their perceptions and experiences as children and adolescents in a working-class family, as students, as wives and mothers, and as community college professionals, and how these shaped their lives both personally and professionally.;This research illuminated the experiences of women whose lives bridged the chasm between working-class America and the doors of two-year colleges. Among the findings were the participants' consistent commitment to working two and sometimes three jobs throughout their lives, and a common work ethic that has been a thread throughout their personal and professional lives. A reoccurring theme was the participants' constant search and effort to establish different kinds of community throughout their lives. Their efforts to find supportive educators, peers, and colleagues during their early years, college experiences, and professional lives, is nothing short of remarkable. Their narratives give rise to the premise that community colleges should aim to work together to share innovations in student services, curriculum development, and professional development. Although community colleges are local institutions, their goals for developing human resources should be all-encompassing in scope. The participants in the study revealed that their pathways enabled them to empathize with, relate to, and encourage students. Therefore, community colleges should seek to develop programs and opportunities for faculty and administrators who are female. Investigations of needs, interests, and talents among working-class women who are faculty and administrators will do much to shape their career tracks, leadership styles, and resultant roles in community colleges.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lyn A. Brodersen



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

182 pages