Race and gender continue to be contributing factors to the disparity and lack of representation that exists among higher-education leaders. This study examines the lived experience of women of color to identify the strategies they utilized to attain administrative leadership roles at a Higher Education Institution (HEI). Participants included women of color leaders with at least 5 years of experience in higher education and in a leadership role. Participants also had advanced degrees. Using a narrative inquiry design, the study involved semi structured interviews to gather data from the sample population. The seven (7) women of color HEIs administrative leaders who participated in the study had more than 12 to 20 years in HEIs and held titles ranging from assistant director to vice president. The findings of the study revealed several leader-member exchange strategies and approaches leaders displayed that encouraged women of color to pursue and attain administrative leadership positions in a California HEI.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Minority women college administrators; Leadership--Education, Higher; Diversity in the workplace--Education, Higher

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Laura Hyatt