Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Michael Kosloski

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Christopher Glass


This Delphi study explores barriers and support systems that impact women’s professional advancement in STEM disciplines. There were 20 expert panelists who committed to participate in the study and 15 panelists completed the four rounds of the study after attrition. The panelists were selected based on specific criteria including educational background, diversity within STEM disciplines, experience as a former or current female administrator who served at two-year degree offering institutions, leadership and membership within women’s advocacy organizations in STEM and related workforce education fields, and depth of knowledge and understanding of the research questions. Through the four rounds of the Delphi study, a consensus was reached among 15 panelists including nine factors supporting advancement and three factors inhibiting advancement for a total of 12 factors that were considered relevant to the research questions based on the mean score of 3.50.

The following factors were identified by the panelists as relevant for supporting advancement: Support Systems, Personal Attributes, Willingness to Advance, Leadership Skills, Curiosity about New Experiences, Role Models, Opportunities for Leadership Roles, Experiences in Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, and Awareness of Institutional Environments; and those for inhibiting advancement: Conflicting Family Obligations, Lack of Compensation, and Personal Concerns. The results of the Delphi study can be used as a conceptual framework to inform administrators and researchers in higher education on the relevant factors concerning organizational climate, institutional policies, and departmental conditions that impact women’s advancement or hinder their advancement in STEM fields.