Since the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s, the number of women in the American workforce has increased dramatically; however, the percentage of women in the C-Suite—those who reach the status of chief officer—remains below 10 percent nationally (Soares et al., 2013). This disparity, sometimes called the “glass ceiling,” remains, even though many companies have adopted important initiatives to promote women’s advancement. Although research has identified a complex set of factors involved in women’s achievement of the highest levels of success in contemporary corporate settings, including measurable achievements, such as education, experience, and technical proficiency and intangibles, such as emotional intelligence, leadership styles, and communication skill, a significance difference in women’s ability to break through the glass ceiling has still not been made.
Aimed at bridging that gap, this qualitative study gathers, through personal interviews, the experiences and perspectives of seventeen individuals, both men and women, of different races, cultures, and backgrounds, all of whom have reached the level of chief officer. Respondents were queried about their perception of the factors necessary to reach the C-Suite, as well as any factors required especially for women to arrive at that destination. The data gathered in the interviews included the subjects’ experiences from the process of their own advancement to the C-Suite and their observations of others’ experiences. The data were coded and analyzed according to recurring themes and patterns in the interviewees’ answers. The results point to a complex, nuanced, dynamic set of factors in the life of an otherwise qualified individual. Namely, four (4) such factors play a primary role in propelling aspiring women into the C-Suite: 1) executive traits; 2) preparation; 3) networking; and 4) engaging organizational culture. The findings offer an empowering promise that women can not only identify and gain the tools they need to accomplish their C-Suite goals, but also actively pursue and cultivate these assets in a way that offers success in both life and career.
|Commitee:||Oliver, Stephen W., Racioppi, Rosina L.|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Womens studies, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Advancing women in business, Women in the C-Suite, Women's leadership|
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