Date of Conferral
Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 has significantly improved women's access to previously male-dominated areas of education in the United States, but few of these studies have focused on the experiences of women currently in the higher education field. This study explored female head athletic trainers' perceptions of the role of U.S. higher education institutions in preparing and supporting their achievement of leadership positions in U.S. collegiate sports: it also explored their views on potential changes in current higher education curricula and certification processes. This phenomenological study used Ridgeway's status construction theory as its theoretical lens for examining the role of higher education in participants' career progressions. Data were collected from a purposeful sample of 9 female head athletic trainers from various intercollegiate schools in the United States. The trustworthiness of findings was increased through use of the constant comparison data analysis method and sharing transcripts and excerpts of findings with participants. The study findings showed that the participants perceived higher education program preparation and support as limited in both helping women achieve collegiate leadership positions and overcome barriers to professional advancement. Suggestions for improving athletic training educational programs included adding mentorship and role models, experiential learning and interactions with sport personnel, networking opportunities, leadership training, and courses in gender roles and biases. This study promotes positive social change by identifying underlying gender biases inhibiting women's promotions into sport leadership roles and by providing policy and curricular suggestions for addressing these, thereby promoting greater social equality.