A phenomenological study that explores career strategies for African American women's advancement into senior leadership positions

by Hayes, Sandra M., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2016, 183 pages; 10240173


This qualitative phenomenological study added to the literature for African American women senior leader’s lived-experiences in the defense industry. African American women were significantly underrepresented in senior leadership positions, with little representation to be seen as role models. This study was designed to gain a better understanding of how African American women overcame challenges or barriers that once stymied so many African American women on their climb to upward mobility. The study’s design was central to exploring how the benefits of informal networks, mentoring, and leadership and developmental training contributed to career advancement. Nineteen African American women from across the US agreed to participate in the study and to describe in their own voices how they overcame challenges for advancement in male-dominated industries. Guiding questions for this study were: (1) what challenges were overcome by African American women senior managers? (2) what is the value of having a mentor and an informal network for African American women senior managers? and (3) what type of leadership and developmental training is considered valuable by African American women senior managers? Telephone interviews were conducted for data collection. The van Kaam method, as modified by Moustakas (1994), was used for data analysis. The study’s results were conclusive for those factors—informal networks, mentoring, and leadership and developmental training—as invaluable for African American women’s career advancement. This study focused on African American women within the defense industry. Future researchers should conduct a study of African American women senior leaders’ experiences across all spectrums of federal, state, and local agencies.

AdviserJohn Klocinski
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Women's studies; Management
Publication Number10240173

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