Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Loretta G. Quigley RN, CNE, EdD

Second Supervisor

David M. Brown, EdD


This purpose of this qualitative descriptive research study was to explore, describe, and understand the underrepresentation, the challenges and barriers, and the strategies needed to mitigate gender inequities between male and female executive leaders within NCAA Division I athletic programs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six female executive leaders who worked as executive leaders within NCAA Division I athletic programs located on the East Coast of the United States. The interview questions were guided by the theoretical framework of social role theory.

The data analysis revealed five major categories and conclusions: (a) cultivating leadership, (b) cultural capital, (c) socially constructed gender roles, (d) structural pressures, and (e) promoting change. The categories that emerged from the data align with the literature describing social role theory, a gender-related theoretical lens under which these issues were examined.

Findings indicate that this research and the data collected add meaningful information to the literature to support practitioners in identifying inequities and advancing policies and practices that promote equity for women aspiring to be executive leaders in collegiate sport. Recommendations for implementable and accessible calls to action are included that can be adopted by athletes, citizens, coaches, practitioners, policymakers, parents, members of the media, and sport executives so that girls and women can realize their full potential with equitable access to opportunity and to demonstrate the impact women can have on the aspirations of future generations.

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