The incongruity between men and women in leadership positions still exists, although opportunities for women continue to expand. Despite the full emergence of women in the work place and decades of affirmative action in the United States, men continue to dominate top management. Although many women have attained supervisory and management positions, only 4% of CEOs are female. Women are moving to upper-level leadership positions slowly, but may be starting to shatter the glass ceiling through entrepreneurship; 4 million females started their own corporations in the United States. This growth of female entrepreneurs may be attributed to the rigid corporate ceiling. Despite research studies on women in leadership roles, the study of diverse perspectives will bring fresh perspectives to traditional organizational issues and a richer pool of resources to address these issues.
The overall purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the leadership experiences of successful minority women leaders in the financial-services industry in northern California, based on their perspectives. Specifically, this study investigated and described the challenges that minority-women leaders faced and what they believed contributed to their success as leaders in the financial-services industry.
Data were recorded through taped dialogues, researcher's observations, and notes. Interviews provided adaptability and elicited data of greater depth and perception than is possible with other measurement techniques. However, the dialogue interview method does have a predilection for bias to occur therefore, the researcher sought to minimize this effect.
All are perceived as leaders with influence, and similar leadership styles. Each participant came from a different background with different experiences, but their opportunities were the same. Each recognized her talent, seized opportunities, and established goals early in life. All were able to break through the glass ceiling and gender inequalities they encountered. Two commonalities emerged: (a) Each leader has profound inner strength and a very strong mindset; and (b) each leader had a strong female role model in the family as inspiration, when they were young minority American females. Self-motivation, strong self-belief, high marketable skills, perseverance, and abstruse discipline and focus may represent the success of minority American females in the financial services.
The researcher was successful in highlighting key characteristics of minority American women in leadership roles in the financial services. This was accomplished by presenting, exploring, and identifying the factors of success for selected minority American women in leadership who transcended obstacles due to the universal appeal of their characteristics, personalities, and success.