The experiences of select university presidential partners with traditional role expectations



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This study focused on 24 female and male respondents. The literature on presidential partners was lacking. The literature available was over 20 years out of date, had been conducted by university presidential partners on behalf of national presidential associations, and assumed that the presidential partner was female, White, educated, and upper-class. Contemporary information was limited to trade magazines and newspaper articles. The methodology used was Lincoln and Guba?s (1985) naturalistic inquiry paradigm and the framework was role theory according to Biddle and Thomas (1966). The study explored the participant?s experience in responding to the university?s traditional role expectations and taking into account the intersecting factors of gender, ethnicity, social class, and/or sexual orientation and showed how these factors affected their personal and university work. African Americans, Latinas, Asian Americans, Whites, interracial partnerships, and a same sex partnership were part of the study. The study was significant because it was the first study on presidential partners in over 20 years, the first qualitative research study, and conducted by a non-presidential partner. In addition, the respondent pool was diverse in ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Significant findings included episodes of racism in the form of death threats and anonymous hate mail; and, discrimination based on the presidential partner?s gender, culture, religion, social class and/or sexual orientation. The university?s patriarchal role expectations continued to exploit and marginalize the female presidential partner and, to a smaller degree, the male presidential partner. Four primary role expectations were identified that impacted both female and male presidential partners. Findings showed that some of the presidential partners continued to work on their career and their partner?s career simultaneously. As a result of the university?s patriarchal expectations and the lack of organizational support and recognition of the presidential partner, the female presidential partner stated that their career was essential for financial security. Numerous recommendations for practice and further research were reported. These findings will contribute to the research fields in higher education administration, organizational structures, social constructivism, sociology, woman studies, male studies, GLBT issues, mental health, marriage and family, psychology and other fields of knowledge.