Date of Award

Winter 1-14-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Jalin B. Johnson

Third Advisor

Carol Riley


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine and describe the career pathways of female art museum directors in the United States

Methodology: This phenomenological study described lived experiences of eight female art museum directors with over five years of directorship experience from museums with operating budgets over $10 million and in states that receive the highest private funding: CA, DC, IL, MA, NY, OH, PA, and TX. Data collection consisted of in-depth interviews using a scripted interview guide in research categories: a) motivation; b) career advancement; c) barriers; and d) support.

Findings: All major findings were evaluated by the theoretical framework and followed a phenomenological research methodology utilizing the four research categories. Eleven major findings effectively answered research questions and two unexpected findings were intrinsically related to all four research categories contributing to a comprehensive examination.

Conclusions: Four conclusions were successfully derived from findings and synthesized with the literature providing evidence of shared lived experiences: a) Female art museum directors are motivated by cultural work because they are genetically prepared to assume positions for public will; b) Female art museum directors advanced their careers as visionary leaders and brought change to societies through art and cultural work; c) Female art museum directors apply different strategies to overcome gender bias, but their main strength is self-reliance; and d) Female art museum directors do not expect support but are willing to support others.

Recommendations: Three future research recommendations were suggested to prominently position this topic within existing literature.