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The perceptions of self-identified lesbian and gay senior higher-education administrators regarding their leadership effectiveness




Christo, Thomas S., author
Kuk, Linda, advisor
Strathe, Marlene, committee member
Carlson, Laurie, committee member
Aoki, Eric, committee member

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The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions of Lesbian and Gay senior administrators regarding their self-identity and coming-out in the workplace, and their perceived effectiveness as leaders at higher-education institutions. Senior administrators in this study were second line, and reported to the President/Chancellor or Provost of an institution; their titles generally were Provost, Vice President, or Dean. Past research studies did not specifically address the self-identity and perceived leadership effectiveness of Lesbian and Gay senior administrators at colleges and universities, and the effect their coming-out had on their workplace experiences. This study used a qualitative phenomenological approach within a constructivist paradigm. After the initial participants were recruited for the study, a snowball technique of purposive sampling was used to identify additional participants. In-depth interviews were performed with eight participants who were self-identified as Gay or Lesbian and who occupied a senior administrative position at a college or university in the United States for at least 3 years. The analysis of the findings from the lived experiences of the senior administrators in the workplace revealed four main themes, which were memorable leadership experiences, coming-out in the workplace, Lesbian and Gay identity and leadership effectiveness, and multiple self-identities of Lesbian and Gay leaders in the workplace. The lived experiences of these self-identified Lesbian and Gay senior administrators were affected by their past and present experiences; they described those experiences as memorable, either as accomplishments or as challenges. The participants' choice to come out at their workplaces was affected by the "comfortableness" they felt with their coworkers, the partners in their lives, the needs of LGBT students, and the views of the institution president or other influential individuals. The participants perceived their Lesbian and Gay identity to be both an integral part of their self-identity, which they reported to have "very successfully" integrated into their leadership, and of their leadership effectiveness.


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sexual identity
leadership effectiveness
LGBT leadership


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