Date of Award

Spring 3-14-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Jeffrey Lee, Ed.D

Second Advisor

Suzette Lovely, Ed.D

Third Advisor

Phil Pendley, Ed.D


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological inquiry study was to examine and describe how female athletic directors in California face and overcome barriers in attaining and retaining their positions.

Methodology: This was a qualitative phenomenological research study, incorporating an interview research design. The participants in this study were current female athletic directors within in the Southern and San Diego Sections of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). The researcher conducted 15 semistructured interviews and collected artifacts that were coded for themes to develop a conceptual framework with which to understand the phenomena that females experience in attaining and retaining their positions (Creswell, 2007).

Findings: Several findings were identified as a result of analyzing the data for themes. First, it was discovered that female athletic directors are rare and face barriers related to gender. Second, time and travel demand negatively impact female athletic director’s ability to participate in family events. Third, successful female athletic directors build positive relationships with individuals in key positions. Fourth, effective female athletic directors stand up for themselves. Lastly, ongoing intentional mentoring from administration and other athletic directors fosters growth for female athletic directors.

Conclusions: Based on the findings, this study supported six conclusions: (a) There needs to be more support for women in athletic administration; (b) female athletic directors need opportunities to find balance with work and family; (c) a school culture that supports ongoing development of staff relationships helps female athletic directors be successful; (d) personal and professional development opportunities are essential for female athletic directors; (e) in order to retain highly qualified female athletic directors, school districts need to cultivate opportunities for mentorship; and (f) the athletic community needs to develop and facilitate a community network for female athletic directors that includes mentoring by other athletic directors.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to better explain the unique dynamics of females and athletic administration. This includes but is not limited to reasons why female athletic directors leave the position, identifying barriers or factors influencing decisions to leave athletic administration, and conducting research into the experiences of administrators and coaches who work with female athletic directors.