Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Dennis E. Gregory

Committee Member

Danica G. Hays

Committee Member

David R. Hager


During the 1970s college campuses in the United States were often the venue through which change occurred. Female faculty and students were assertive in their efforts to influence equality between men and women across the country (Morris, 1984). This historical phenomenological study examined the oral history of several women who advocated for women's rights at Old Dominion University (ODU) by establishing the Women's Caucus, Women's Studies Program, and Women's Center during the late 1970s through the 1990s.

Participants selected for this study took part in semi-structured interviews, and the results of the interviews were triangulated with archived documents available at ODU and the City of Norfolk Public Library. Participants' stories provided historical context to the development of women's programs, which supported students, faculty, and staff today. The interviews were used to explore participants' experiences as members and leaders in the ODU community. Documentation complements the evidence of the women's movement, and supports that women on the traditional college campus during the time period of study perceptively had different experiences than men.

Using phenomenological data analysis (Wertz, 2005), interviews and historical documents were coded to identify textural and structural descriptions of the phenomena of interest (female leadership and community at ODU). Research team member bias was bracketed for the study, and the research team met on a weekly basis for consensus coding. Data management tools such as concept mapping, and other case displays (Miles & Huberman, 1994) were used in the study to describe the essence of the phenomena. Identified themes included equity, identity, unity, discrimination, and action.

The research questions were designed to investigate the phenomena of leadership, community and perceived change in those areas in connection to women's equity on campus at ODU. Findings indicated that women experienced in equity, and by taking roles in leadership and community at ODU, they have the perception that change has occurred in those areas.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).