Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Mark A. Hector

Committee Members

Kathleen L. Davis, Joel F. Diambra, Tricia McClam


The primary purpose of this study was to obtain a description of women faculty members’ experiences of discrimination in higher education. The phenomenological research methodology informed the study. Seventeen participants were asked to respond to the question, “Can you tell me about your experience of discrimination as a faculty member in a higher education institution?” The interviews were in-depth and unstructured. Verbatim transcripts of the audio-taped interviews were completed and a phenomenological research group analyzed the data using the phenomenological method. Two grounds and three main themes emerged from the data. The first ground was Minimize/Describe Discrimination. This captured the participants’ tendencies to deny or minimize discriminations at times and then to describe experiences of discrimination at other times. The second ground was Overt/Covert Discrimination. This ground served as the foundation for each of the themes. Participants’ descriptions varied between obvious and overt acts of discriminatory behavior to subtle and covert examples. The three main themes were: 1) Burdened, 2) Devalued, and 3) Supported. Each of these themes encompassed several sub-themes which illustrated the participants’ experiences of discrimination in higher education. The final chapter of this dissertation related the major findings of this study to existing literature and included research and practical implications of the findings.

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