A Case Analysis of a Model Program for the Leadership Development of Women Faculty and Staff Seeking to Advance Their Careers in Higher Education

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The purpose of this case study was to explore a model of leadership development for women faculty and staff in higher education. This study is significant because it explored the only identified campus-based program open to both faculty and staff. The campus-based Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) program at the University of Cincinnati evolved over a few years and became a regionally-based program subsequently called the Higher Education Collaborative (HEC). These two programs at the University of Cincinnati served as the foci of this case study research.

Using methods consistent with case study research, I interviewed six past participants of the programs (three from each), plus the program coordinator, and several other campus administrators. Document reviews were conducted on marketing materials, progress reports, websites, budgets, status of women reports, and other documents found in university archives. A focus group was conducted with the primary informants of the study as a way to check identified themes with the participants.

Findings suggest that elements of the leadership development programs did have influence on the participants in terms of their leadership self-efficacy, career aspirations and career paths. A comparison of the WILD and HEC programs suggest that the regionally-based HEC provided a solid opportunity for skill development and training, while the campus-based WILD program excelled at providing opportunities for participants to develop meaningful relationships and gain insights into the operations of the University. Participants in the HEC program engaged in the experience to learn about ways to advance in their careers, unlike the women in WILD who participated in order to be better in their current positions. WILD alumnae had changed positions, taking on more responsibilities and in some cases higher ranking titles since participating in the program. It was too soon to tell the career path implications for the HEC participants.

Other universities wishing to create a pipeline for women to advance into leadership can learn from the University of Cincinnati. Elements of both the WILD and HEC programs serve as valuable models for creating effective leadership development opportunities for women. Making sure women understand the purpose of an all-women experience is an important component that was missing from the UC programs.