Men and women in community college leadership: a qualitative study
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This study identified characteristics, attributes, and behaviors perceived to contribute to success in the community college presidency. In addition, this study also examined differences in those perceptions according to gender. The study utilized two focus groups, which were selected and delineated by gender. The focus groups consisted of current community college leaders at the director level and above and were asked to identify factors (affinities) that they believe lead to the success of a community college president. Each focus group identified twelve affinities. Interviews of twenty current community college presidents (ten men and ten women) were then conducted to examine their experiences with each of the affinities. Each president was interviewed from the affinity list determined by his or her respective gendered focus group. The findings were 1) Factors that lead to success in the community college presidency are not gender bound. Leadership is androgynous and the attributes needed to be successful in the presidential role can be the same for both men and women. 2) Stereotypes lead to perceptions that men and women are different. Women are more attuned to the effects of stereotyping. 3) Some differences are attributable to how men and women process language. Men and women process language differently and this may be mistaken for differences in content. Although women and men may use different labels, oftentimes the content of what they are talking about is the same. 4) There are some differences between men and women in leadership styles. Women focus on relationships and interactive communication, men focus on independence and information dissemination. 5) Leadership is a learned behavior and it is possible to gain knowledge and skills to continually enhance personal leadership attributes.