Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Steven N. Waller

Committee Members

Jeffrey A. Graham, Kathleen C. Brown, Mitsunori Misawa, Andrew R. Meyer


While there is an increase of women working in campus recreation, there remains an underrepresentation of women in leadership roles within campus recreation and related industries. Not only can it be challenging for women to navigate male-dominated fields to achieve their desired position, but women experience difficulties once they finally obtain leadership roles. This study built upon the limited research conducted about the experiences of women leaders within campus recreation. The purpose of the study was to gain further understanding of the experiences of women who are directors of campus recreation. Specifically examining their career development, resilience, and health in response to stressors, such as the work-life interface and gender discrimination. By utilizing a qualitative design, narrative inquiry, the goal was to understand further the social contexts (i.e., gender, organizational structure, social relationships) that influence the career development of women in campus recreation. Through the use of narrative thematic analysis, four themes were constructed: (a) “I was very aware of being the only woman:” navigating the cycle of the system by examining their positionalities; (b) “relationship focused:” women’s ways of developing their own leadership styles; (c) “life is bigger than just work:” work and life interface; and (d) “rhythm of back and forth:” negotiating personal and professional impact of being women leaders. These findings have important implications for both recreation and sport management and public health. There was a demonstrated need to better prepare the next generation of women leaders, including providing strategic professional development opportunities as well as key conversations about leader succession. Further, gender-related policy changes must be made to facilitate a more functional work-life balance as well as enhance job satisfaction and health for women leaders.

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