In today's business world, we are faced with an unpredictable global economy, fierce foreign competition for American businesses, and challenges surrounding factors such as staffing and leadership. Leadership is one issue that businesses can influence internally, and with proper planning and development, can help ensure that the right leaders are in place. A gender gap exists which inhibits opportunities for women to ascend into positions of senior leadership in Corporate America. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the gender gap is narrowing, but at a slow pace.
The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of women in leadership in Corporate America. The primary research question was, "What are the perceptions and experiences of women in leadership in Corporate America?"
Data were collected by means of an Internet survey developed by the researcher and distributed by a third-party vendor. A total of 218 survey invitations were distributed, and 83 women responded to the survey, providing a response rate of 38%. Several themes emerged from the survey data, including the perception that gender stereotypes still exist in the classroom, the importance of mentors and role models, and the significance of women leaders supporting other women in Corporate America. The data also indicated that the glass ceiling still exists in today's business world.
Based on the themes identified and conclusions drawn from the survey, along with the review of related literature, the researcher developed recommendations, and an associated model, that were constructed to help develop and prepare women for leadership roles in the business world. The model is referred to as the EPS model (EARLY, PLANT, and SOW), and includes the following steps: (1) EARLY (Engagement, Action and Results in the Learning Years); (2) PLANT (Professional Leadership And Networking Training); (3) SOW (Supporting Other Women).
As Corporate America searches for the best way to harvest world-class female leaders, the EPS model offers a practical solution. It is the hope of the researcher that this study has made a significant contribution towards that goal, with the ultimate objective of supporting the development of extraordinary women in leadership in Corporate America.