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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Women at the Top: Female Ceos' Perceptions of Important Life and Career Influences
by Provost, Amy Zimmermann, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2020, 155; 27833475
Abstract (Summary)

This study is focused on the formative personal and professional experiences of 20 Massachusetts-based, female Chief Executive Officers (CEO) in charge of small- to mid-sized organizations. Past research regarding how to develop CEOs was largely based on populations that are almost exclusively male. In addition, many ideas about gender, CEO appointments, and leadership roles are based on data and extrapolations pulled from surveys that used human resource employees or middle managers as respondents rather than the actual leaders in the role. No extant studies are based on the observations of women CEOs regarding what they believe to have been influential experiences in their past. Building on past research this study begins to fill the void by analyzing the results of one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with the 20 women CEOs. Themes and subthemes were developed through examination of interview transcripts, and resulting themes were categorized as either internal external influences. The study found that internal influences, including an intense desire to learn and an equally intense need to be challenged were shared by all of the women, beginning at a very early age. In addition, throughout their personal lives, subjects were influenced externally by parents, teachers, education, and families. In their professional lives external influences included mentors, corporate development programs, on-the-job learning, and supportive spouses. Because of the small sample size and relatively limited diversity of subjects, this study cannot be broadly generalized. It does, however, provide useful information for HR professionals in charge of talent development, and a starting point for future research in the development of women leaders.

Keywords: women CEOs, women’s impactful career experiences, women's careers, women’s career development, corporate women, CEO experiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaminstein, Dana S.
Commitee: Wiens, Kandi, DiNunzio, Karen
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Chief Learning Officer
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Womens studies
Keywords: CEO experiences, Corporate women, Impactful career experiences, Women CEO, Womens career development, Womens careers
Publication Number: 27833475
ISBN: 9798662373761
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