Date of Conferral
African American female field grade officers perform many missions in the United States Army and often excel in their careers. Unfortunately, the factors accounting for the success of African American female military officers' career are understudied, and this gap in knowledge may prevent younger female military officers from advancing their careers. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the success factors of African American female field grade officers. Participants were women who were currently serving on active duty, who retired after serving 20 or more years, or who had resigned their commissions. Success was defined as achieving rank as a field grade officer with high levels of responsibility and receiving no negative reports. Twenty participants underwent a detailed interview that lasted approximately 60 minutes. The analysis of data consisted of applying codes to portions of each participant's responses. Once applied, new codes were modified or added when new meanings or categories evolved. Throughout this study, the participants reported challenges and barriers that were based mostly on their gender, not their race. The primary challenges reported by these women were being viewed negatively as leaders, feeling as if they had to choose between raising a family or continuing to serve while in the military, feeling unable to be as competitive as her male counterparts for promotions for certain military commands, and struggling to overcome the stereotypes that still exist. This research helps illuminate factors that are related to career success of African American female military officers. This knowledge creates a positive change in the military and in other workplaces where females are increasingly working in leadership positions.