Such as in many contexts, the gender gap in higher education leadership persists universally. Women are still underrepresented despite the contributions they demonstrate in leading higher education institutions. This study aims to contribute to the area of research in this regard by exploring the experiences of female academic leaders in Cairo, Egypt. It specifically highlights the challenges these women face, and how they manage to overcome it. Using a qualitative approach to deeply explore the phenomenon, ten interviews were conducted with female leaders at the American University in Cairo. Looking through the lens of intersectional feminism, under the umbrella of neo-patriarchy theory, this research explores the different indicators that shape and influence the experiences of these women while examining the interplay of the socio-cultural, professional, and institutional obstacles these women must deal with. The study’s findings shed light on the different intersectional indicators that appear to influence female leadership in higher education when coined with gender. This last appears to be a significant determinant. The paper concludes that an intersectional perspective is needed by higher education institutions to improve the situation of female leaders in academia.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Educational Studies Department

Degree Name

MA in International & Comparative Education

Graduation Date

Winter 2-28-2024

Submission Date


First Advisor

Teklu Abate

Committee Member 1

Mustafa Toprack

Committee Member 2

Ibrahim Karkouti

Committee Member 3

Teklu Abate



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item