Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

Norma T. Mertz, Ralph G. Brockett


Female student affairs professionals have experienced much advancement in the field. Yet we still suffer gender discrimination in our career paths, salaries, and work experiences. Unfortunately, this issue is not seen as important by decision makers, due to the acceptance of slow change, the past reluctances to begin this discussion, and the arguments of critics. In order to reinvigorate our growth and advancement in the field, I argue that there is value in supporting female student affairs professionals.

I justify the value of supporting of female student affairs professionals from student affairs, human resources, and cultural studies perspectives. From a student affairs viewpoint, I examine the positive impact of support from a profession-wide, institutional, individual female student affairs professional, and student basis. Using a human resource outlook, I investigate attrition, potential legal concerns, productivity and cost-efficiency, and the look, practices, and culture of higher education. I conclude with a special look at working mothers. Finally, I examine my proposal through a cultural studies lens. I considered the issues of gender, institutional class level, generation, and morality. Therefore, I am confident that there is value in the support of female student affairs professionals.

Finally, I will look to the future. There are five primary consequences from the decision to either support or neglect female student affairs professionals: job satisfaction, productivity and work quality, attrition, females and the profession of student affairs, and the mission of student affairs. Each consequence could have a positive or negative impact depending upon the choice of the decision makers. Assuming decision makers choose support, I recommend a process for establishing an effective and supportive retention plan. The process includes the following steps: understanding the needs of our organization, learning from others, creation and action, reflection and continual improvement, and the role of self-responsibility in the support process. I conclude by discussing the importance of self-responsibility in the initiation of change for the betterment of all female student affairs professionals.

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