Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD; Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Theresa M. Monroe, EdD


female, gender bias, gender influences, graduate classroom, higher education, male, micro inequities, perception, women


Defined by Mary Rowe (1977) as micro inequities, seemingly insignificant gender bias behaviors create an inequitable academic environment and marginalize groups and individuals in the American classroom. Popularized by Hall and Sandler's 1982 report on the "chilly" classroom, gender bias is subtle and differs from the more obvious behaviors associated with sexual harassment. However, gender bias research appears incomplete. Study findings contradict each other, few studies explore gender bias in the graduate classroom, and fewer yet compare the perceptions of women and men concerning gender influences in the graduate classroom. This dissertation investigates perceptions of the influence of gender in the graduate classroom. Using telephone interviews to gather qualitative data, the study explores the similarities and differences in the perceptions of 42 graduates of the University of San Diego (USD) Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Program. The research not only examines graduates' perceptions of gender influences, but also considers the implications of these perceptions on a leadership studies graduate education program. The research reveals apparent similarities in female and male perceptions about graduate classroom gender influences. When grouped into broad categories, women's and men's responses appear similar. For example, a similar number of women and men believe gender inequities exist in the graduate classroom. Also, both women and men tend to recall out-of-the-ordinary events and not micro inequities, and tend to support their own gender while criticizing the opposite gender. The research also reveals differences in female and male perceptions of gender influence, particularly with respect to the adverse influence of male privilege in the graduate classroom. The research did not identify apparent widespread gender bias in the USD Ed.D. graduate classroom. However, the research does propose three socially constructed beliefs about acceptable behavior that may perpetuate the adverse influence of gender bias in the graduate classroom. The research also observes that graduate students may not fully understand the influence of gender on their classroom environment and suggests that a leadership studies graduate education program might benefit from a class on case studies in diversity that would include gender topics.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access