The Search for Something Better: Narrative Inquiry into Why Women in Non-Faculty Roles Left Higher Education During COVID-19 Pandemic
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Education Policy, Planning, and Administration
Kathryn P. (Tina) Alessandria, PhD
Megan T. Nolan, PhD
Vanessa Kahen, PhD
Stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic for women working in non-faculty roles in higher education still need to be understood. While there is extensive research on voluntary turnover, the influence of the pandemic on how and why women choose to leave the field is still lacking. Most research on higher education professionals fails to include the perspective of women in non-faculty positions. This study conducted a qualitative narrative inquiry to understand the experiences of women in non-faculty roles who worked in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic and how that influenced their reasons for turnover decision-making. The results found that the pandemic amplified existing concerns for each participant. Ultimately, their relationship with their supervisor and leadership, lack of career growth, and role as a mother influenced why they left the field of higher education. Their relationship with their supervisor was salient in their reasons to leave, four subthemes were found: lack of support and personal risk, lack of humanity, constant change, and lack of flexibility. The COVID-19 pandemic directly influenced their turnover decision-making process by sparking the Great Resignation, which created opportunities for movement and provided them a chance to reflect on what they needed most from their careers. The findings of this study contextualize implications for future research by demonstrating the need to understand a woman’s experience in higher education, the factors that contribute to their decision to leave the field and provide a space in the academy for women in non-faculty roles to see themselves amongst literature.
Corsi, Amanda, "The Search for Something Better: Narrative Inquiry into Why Women in Non-Faculty Roles Left Higher Education During COVID-19 Pandemic" (2023). West Chester University Doctoral Projects. 191.
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