Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


John W. Murry, Jr.

Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Second Committee Member

Michael T. Miller


ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Program, Promotion, STEM Women Faculty, Women Faculty, Women Full Professors in STEM, Work Climate


Women still comprise a small number of full professors in STEM disciplines in research universities, which have historically been male dominated. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recognized the challenge of getting more women to enter the professoriate, earn tenure, and advance to full professor. These women can then encourage more women to enter into STEM as educators and researchers. The purpose of this study was to recognize, explore, and depict strategies used by women full professors to overcome obstacles they faced while advancing in academic STEM fields. The study participants also offered recommendations for women faculty desiring to become full professors and university academic leaders on how to help women in STEM achieve the top academic rank.

This study used a qualitative collective case design to collect data and to aid in forming an understanding of the women participants’ experiences in earning promotion from associate professor to full professor in STEM academic departments. The participants were selected using purposeful sampling. Semi-structured interviews conducted with 13 full professors in various stem fields comprised they primary source of data. A pre-survey questionnaire and review of documents provided further information for the study.

The findings from the study suggest that women associate professors are motivated to seek promotion primarily because of the status, prestige, and recognition that accompanies the rank. The study’s participants offered several strategies to associate professors in how to overcome barriers blocking the path to promotion. Among these strategies were understanding promotion criteria and standards, building academic credentials, focusing on research and external funding, protecting research time, and establishing research collaborations. The participants’ principal recommendation to associate professors on how to advance to full professor was to build a national reputation, while the participants advised academic leaders to develop flexible promotion criteria and standards, provide targeted professional development workshops for associate professors, encourage the availability of mentors and advocates, facilitate faculty collaborations, and better accommodate work-life balance for women faculty.