Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Mary Woods Scherr, PhD, Director; Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD; Johanna S. Hunsaker, PHD


California, children & youth, Delphi study, families & family life, higher education, Leadership studies, motherhood, parents & parenting, student affairs, women, work environment, work schedule


Increasingly in the past two decades, student affairs work at American's universities has been undertaken by women. This work with the co-curricular life of the students in higher education requires administrators at all levels to have a flexible schedule with the ability to commit evenings and weekends to their work. Challenges for academe and for women in the profession have emerged as more women enter the field. One of the most problematic areas is the retention of highly educated and experienced female administrators once they have children. Workplace environment, including work schedule, job demands and employer support, have been suggested as reasons why many working mothers leave the student affairs profession or are unable to advance to the highest levels of administration. To explore these problems in more detail, this study collected data from 35 working mothers in student affairs careers at universities in California. A Delphi process enabled the study participants, through four rounds of questionnaires, to arrive at consensus on the most important work environment issues affecting working mothers in both positive and negative ways. Strategies for both addressing work-family balance issues in the workplace and for seeking work environments which support work-family balance were identified. The finds of the study revealed that working mothers in student affairs value a flexible work schedule with little or no weekend or evening obligations, a job description which includes manageable responsibilities with flexibility for where and when to accomplish the work, and a supportive supervisor. Recommendations were offered for working mothers in the profession and for managers and supervisors who would like to retain these committed, experienced and talented professionals.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access