Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Today's glass ceiling: Executive women's experiences and perceptions regarding career advancement into executive leadership positions in transportation
by Licea, Irma L., D.P.A., University of La Verne, 2013, 249; 3584891
Abstract (Summary)

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to examine the progression and perception of the glass ceiling today, against the backdrop of decades of changing social developments, including changing demographics, economies, and technological advancements; legislative mandates; organizational structures with a more humanistic approach to human capital; a shift toward collaborative intra- and interagency organizational management; and an unprecedented active citizenry.

Theoretical Framework. The theoretical framework was based on three foundational theories: organizational theory, feminist theory, and collaborative management theory.

Methodology. This study included 12 participants, all executive-level women at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) from the deputy executive officer level and above. A semistructured interview approach was utilized to best capture each participant’s perceptions in relation to career advancement since each participant’s experience was different and due to the highly political climate associated with executive-level positions.

Findings. The glass ceiling is still pervasive, and all participants indicated being personally impacted by it. Comparable pay is still an issue, occupational segregation is still commonplace, children and marriage are still barriers to advancement, and despite in many cases women surpassing men in educational attainment, disparity at the top continues. Diversity has created unprecedented opportunity, even if by default. Work–life balance continues to be an issue. Technological advances and shifts to knowledge-based work are expected to increase career advancement. Feminine traits such as nurturing and consensus building that were once seen as negatives are now viewed as positive traits in collaborative structures.

Conclusions and Recommendations. The results of this study support the overall literature review and the researcher’s position that emerging changes in social and organizational structures, especially a shift to more humanistic and collaborative organizational structures, will create career advancement opportunities for women. However, since this a rapidly evolving structure, management/organizational reporting structures need to evolve as well. Women must educate themselves in nontraditional female fields like engineering and the sciences. Joining professional organizations, networking, and mentoring need to be practiced. Lastly, women must be committed to growth and know that they will have to work harder than men, have more education and credentials, and continue to push on the ceiling until it shatters.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Beaumaster, Suzanne
Commitee: Ahumada, Elaine, Godwin, Marcia
School: University of La Verne
Department: Public Administration
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Organization Theory, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Changing social developments, Executive-level women, Glass ceiling, Interagency organization management, Los Angeles County, Political climate
Publication Number: 3584891
ISBN: 978-1-303-99388-6
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