Women Leaders’ Experiences in Navigating the Labyrinth of Leadership in Saudi Post-Secondary Institutions
Despite initiatives to increase the number of women in leadership positions in Saudi Arabia, women are still underrepresented in leadership, specifically in post-secondary institutions (PSIs) with myriad barriers to overcome in their quest to acquire leadership roles. This qualitative case study explored the experiences of Saudi female leaders in PSIs as they navigate the labyrinth of leadership to gain better understanding of how they overcame barriers and accessed support as they progressed towards and through leadership positions. The significance of this research was derived from the premise that female leaders need essential leadership knowledge and skills; to effectively navigate the labyrinth of leadership and lead through economic transformation, globalization, and rapid technological development in an increasingly diverse world. I used the metaphor ‘labyrinth’ by Eagly and Carli (2007) as the conceptual framework. I conducted this research using an interpretivist qualitative approach and conducted semi-structured interviews with female academic leaders in three Saudi public universities. The resultant findings revealed that the barriers (societal, organizational, professional, and personal) identified by participants, replicated those identified in the literature. However, findings revealed that organizational barriers were the major hindrances for Saudi females’ advancement in the labyrinth and these were followed closely by societal barriers. In addition, findings revealed that women used several strategies to access leadership positions and navigate the labyrinth of leadership in Saudi PSIs, some of which were not indicated in the literature. Spirituality was a powerful key for women leaders who pursued and persisted on their career paths of leadership in Saudi PSIs. Finally, the resultant findings had several implications for practice, policy, theory, and future research of women leaders in Saudi PSIs.
Leadership- Labyrinth- Barriers- Post-secondary institutions-Navigation
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)