Gender and the Role of Directors of Public Administration and Policy Programs

This article examines the role of gender as it relates to director positions in Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs. It specifically investigates whether women are more likely than men to serve as MPA and MPP program directors and whether men and women report different experiences in the role, such as length of service, rewards and burdens, and possible constraints on research and teaching and thus promotion potential. We surveyed schools offering MPA and MPP degrees and found that women served as program directors proportional to their representation among the faculty, at about 35%. Interview findings suggest that while some gendered characterizations of women’s leadership persist, men and women program directors and faculty experience similar struggles in balancing their administrative roles with the demands of teaching and research, both of which are likely to suffer during their service.