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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Female executives and the glass ceiling: A phenomenological study of stubborn, systemic barriers to career advancement
by Stalinski, Sherryl, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2014, 233; 3635048
Abstract (Summary)

The gender gap issue is a complex, systemic problem emerging from the interrelation of multiple variables. This study sought to identify the primary, interrelated, and mutually influential variables that contribute to the C-suite gender gap phenomenon using Moustakas' transcendental phenomenological research methodology. Seven female vice president level executives who work in a male-dominated private sector industries in a major metropolitan area were interviewed. Common themes emerged around the significant impact of culture and upbringing and experiences with subtle or overt second-generation gender bias. Five women had some experience of the double bind, although not all of them seemed to perceive the experience that way. All participants discounted the concept of the "glass ceiling." All except one credited strong mentors who provided advice, guidance, and support and who also acted as advocates in helping to advance their careers. All participants demonstrated strong self-confidence, although two noted their confidence was low during their early career and grew through positive, reinforcing experiences. All participants discussed work-life balance and many tempered their career ambition with a similarly strong value for creating and maintaining work-life balance. Only one experienced career limitations by downgrading her work schedule to accommodate childcare needs. Each of their stories, though unique, illustrated how the variables of personality, leadership style, levels of ambition and confidence, upbringing, organizational culture, societal culture, how others interact with them, work-life balance, and mentors created a systemic "whole" that brought them to their current level of success in their careers. It is in the context of describing and seeing the systemic complexity of the issue that recommendations for a comprehensive strategy for action were presented.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Southern, Nancy
Commitee: Chess, Mary Kay, Walton, Douglas
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Business administration, Organizational behavior, Gender studies
Keywords: Complex systems, Gender gap, Glass ceiling, Organizational systems, Phenomenology, Systems theory
Publication Number: 3635048
ISBN: 978-1-321-15844-1
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