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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

'A Woman's Place': Exploring the Leadership Journeys of Women in Government Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
by Townsend, April, Ed.D., Northeastern University, 2018, 178; 10748353
Abstract (Summary)

The phrase ‘a woman’s place’ has been used to assert there are roles or locations socially acceptable for women to occupy, inferring there are places or positions where they do not belong. While it could be dismissed as an outdated expression, a saying that reflects old-fashioned views no longer held, women who aspire to leadership in government organizations still experience the alienating effects of the phrase that implies they do not belong. This study sought to understand the lived experiences of nine women who successfully navigated a path to executive leadership in Utah state government. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to understand their first-person lived experience of being a leader in an environment where a dominant majority of leadership positions are held by men. By using social role theory and role congruity theory as the theoretical framework, data analysis showed that through their experiences, the women relied upon persistence and resilience to pursue a career path where leadership developmental opportunities echoed the labyrinth metaphor rather than the traditional metaphor of a career ladder. Embedded in these experiences was a struggle for visibility and voice, where the women were confronted with being socially excluded. Listening to the stories of these women showed how their grit and determination helped them succeed as a leader. Recommendations for practice and future research were grounded in their narratives and in the research literature, with the goal of moving to a point where the phrase ‘a woman’s place’ will no longer haunt the experience of women leaders within government organizations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McNabb, Joseph W.
Commitee: Madsen, Susan R., Nolan, Kimberly
School: Northeastern University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Public administration, Organization Theory, Gender studies
Keywords: Leadership, Public sector, Representative bureaucracy, Role congruity theory, Utah, Women
Publication Number: 10748353
ISBN: 978-0-355-81083-7
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