Exploring success factors of executive women moving beyond the corporate glass ceiling: A qualitative exploratory study of American female executives

by Straughter, Alicia M., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 127 pages; 3687738


Female executives face corporate barriers that only a few women have conquered, including the metaphorical barrier known as the glass ceiling and other roadblocks that prevent women from progressing past a specific level. Researchers have documented that women in management positions are confronted with barriers in the workplace such as scarcity of educational and supportive programs, and only a small percentage of women in business have moved beyond corporate barriers to obtain top executive roles. In order to contribute knowledge to the organization and management field, this study featured 15 interviews with senior executive women who have advanced beyond the glass ceiling in corporate America. The purpose of this study was to explore key factors that contributed to the advancement of these women executives over the last decade. The exploratory method addressed the research question: What factors such as work-life balance, leadership and management style, motivation to lead, success strategies, and career development contribute to the success of female leaders within businesses? This process explored experiences, personal stories, behavior, and individual perceptions of the participants. The findings indicated that the women executives identified professional mentorship, career development planning, motivation, work-life stability, success strategies, and leadership and management ability as major factors in their achievement as top women business leaders. Some initial themes that resulted from this research study included the need for a person to understand her purpose, the importance of good listening skills, the ability to accomplish work, and the benefits of delegating responsibility and adapting to work environments. Additional themes emerged from this research study and consisted of having the confidence to make tough decision; trusting in faith/spirituality and inspiration; valuing team effort; and constantly working hard to prove their worth. The themes revealed during the findings were not previously addressed in the literature review as success factors that contribute to executive women's achievement of senior positions. These topics provide avenues for future research into the elements of success for female executives.

AdviserApril Boyington Wall
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsWomen's studies; Management; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3687738

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