Graduate Program

Communication Studies with Pedagogy Option

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Thesis Director

Dr. Angela Jacobs

Thesis Committee Member

Dr. Elizabeth Gill

Thesis Committee Member

Dr. Marita Gronnvoll


The purpose of this study was to examine gendered practices and the experiences of women instructors within academia. Women face different challenges than men in the classroom, and many times, they are challenged by their students. In order to complete this study, I conducted narrative interviews with women faculty ranging from Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), contractual instructors, as well as tenured and untenured professors at a Midwest university. I was able to interview eight women faculty members of varying positions. After completing the interviews and analyzing the data from each instructor, three prominent themes emerged. These themes are: (1) public and private challenges to women instructor’s authority, (2) offering justifications for bad student behavior, and (3) a need for nurturing and role modeling good behavior for students. It was clear from all participants that formal and informal mentorship programs should be utilized within academia. Instructors suggested that it would be beneficial to not only incoming faculty members, but to everyone who teaches in the classroom to have a mentor who could help when challenging situations arise.