Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The ascent of women to senior leadership positions in the financial services industry: A phenomenological study
by Rosenfeld, Elaine G., Ph.D., Capella University, 2009, 202; 3344731
Abstract (Summary)

The number of men and women in the financial services industry is relatively equal (Catalyst, 2003); however, fewer women than men hold senior leadership positions in the industry (Ogden, McTavish, & McKean, 2006). Few studies exist that focus on executive women (Lyness & Thompson, 2000) or that have allowed women to share their own experiences (Josselson, 1987). This study explored the lived experiences of female senior leaders in financial services to understand the societal and organizational culture and climate factors that affected their rise. Capitalizing on every competitive advantage will be critical as the financial services industry faces one of the most tumultuous crises in modern times (Ritholtz, 2008). Comparing organizational return on equity (ROE), companies that employed more women in senior management roles had a 35% higher ROE than companies with the smallest percentage of women in top leadership roles (Catalyst, 2000; Giscombe, 2007).

Using a qualitative phenomenological method, the essence of the experience of becoming a senior leader in financial services was captured through face-to-face semi-structured interviews of 19 women at the managing director level. Fourteen distinct themes emerged including: influence of up-brining on their careers, lack of career planning, coincidences that occurred during their careers, networking, strong work ethics, the need for self-promotion, the role managers played in their careers, the importance of mentoring, the need for sponsors, work-life balance struggles, the influence of personal values on career decisions, the need to take risks, the presence of a "boys club", and the importance of leaving a positive legacy. Further analysis identified four organizational and three societal culture and climate factors, as well as specific positive and negative implications from each factor on the ascent of women to senior leadership positions in financial services.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Buchsbaum-Greif, Toni
Commitee: Sloan, Julia, Strickland, Cyd
School: Capella University
Department: School of Business
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Womens studies, Organizational behavior, Gender studies
Keywords: Career ascension, Culture, Financial services, Glass ceiling, Leadership, Senior leaders, Women leaders
Publication Number: 3344731
ISBN: 9781109036442
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