Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Inclusion in the Intelligence Community: Experiences of African American Women
by Hollingsworth, Teresa K., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2021, 107; 28257908
Abstract (Summary)

To counter threats to national security within an increasingly complex and unstable global arena, the Intelligence Community (IC) requires a highly skilled workforce with diversity at all organizational levels. African American women, a historically marginalized group within the IC, are underrepresented in the senior grades (senior executive, GS-15 and GS-14), which suggests inadequacies in creating and sustaining inclusive environments that provide opportunities for advancement to historically underrepresented populations. Given that the experience of inclusion of African American women civilian employees within the IC is unexplored in the literature, this basic qualitative study, informed by the theory of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991), a conceptual framework of inclusion (Jansen et al., 2014), and a model of inclusive organizations (Shore et al., 2018), explored how African American women civilian employees at a national intelligence agency describe the phenomenon and the experience of inclusion, and the meaning the participants assigned to inclusion in connection to their perception of opportunities for professional development.

The nine African American women who participated in this study described inclusion as a multi-dimensional construct including a sense of belonging, the opportunity to participate, and being valued as a contributor. The participants explained that having opportunities for development was integral to the experience of inclusion, and that they experienced inclusion when supervisors supported their participation in opportunities for development. However, experiences of “not inclusion,” as opposed to inclusion, were predominant in the participants’ narratives. Stereotype threat emerged as playing a negative role in the experience of inclusion, suggesting an area for further research and indicating the need for organizational interventions to disrupt organizational cues of stereotypes.

The participants’ perceptions of organizational change and their observations of senior leaders informed their views of the organization’s commitment to inclusion. The findings point to organizational initiatives to improve inclusion, such as enabling employees to inform themselves about and self-select for development opportunities and establishing and holding supervisors accountable for adhering to standards of inclusive leader behaviors.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cseh, Maria
Commitee: Coningham, Beatriz, Walker Hall, Delisa, Nakamura, Yoshie, Abbe, Allison
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human & Organizational Learning
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 82/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Public administration, African American Studies, Womens studies, Management, Labor relations, Organizational behavior
Keywords: African American women, Diversity, Federal government, Inclusion, Intelligence community, Stereotype threat, Underrepresented populations , Professional development, Inclusive leader behaviors, Civilian employees
Publication Number: 28257908
ISBN: 9798557003179
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