The purpose of this study, nested within a broader study about higher education leadership, was to generate knowledge about the ways in which doctoral education prepared people for leadership roles in postsecondary institutions within the USA. At colleges and universities, there is an interest in ensuring diverse leadership teams and welcoming campus environments. Yet, the research demonstrates challenges for and underrepresentation among higher education leaders. One point of intervention is doctoral programs in higher education and related fields, given the professional socialization, identity formation and knowledge acquisition that occurs through the doctoral journey.
By conducting interviews with women who hold doctorates in the field of higher education and who took on new leadership roles at postsecondary institutions in the USA during the global health pandemic, the authors identified specific areas for which doctoral-level training and experiences may be helpful in supporting leader development.
The authors identified specific areas for which doctoral-level training and experiences may be helpful in supporting leader development. Based on those findings, the authors offer initial propositions about how doctoral programs might support the development of equity-minded leaders in higher education, which should be tested and refined through further research, theory development and application to practice.
This paper contributes by providing a focus on the ways in which doctoral programs can equitably train and develop equity-minded leaders for a range of career goals including but not limited to academic appointments in higher education.
The authors are grateful to Kate Lehman and the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on this manuscript.
The authors have no known conflict of interest to disclose.
An earlier version of this manuscript was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education in 2022.
Pifer, M.J., Tevis, T.L. and Baker, V.L. (2023), "Train for the job you want (or will be asked to take): envisioning the doctorate as preparation for equity-minded leadership in higher education", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 366-380. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-01-2023-0012
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