Date of Conferral
Despite advances made during the women's movement, gender inequality is a problem for women seeking leadership opportunities within the U.S. Defense Industry today. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the perceptions of civilian females who had experienced gender inequality obstacles in their professional advancement opportunities within the U.S. Defense Industry. The mommy track framework, defined as the family/work imbalance; the gatekeeper framework; and the institutional sexism framework were used to guide this study. The research questions focused on how these women perceived both internal and external barriers to their professional advancement in the U.S. Defense Industry. A criterion sample of 18 civilian females who worked within the defense industry was interviewed. Data analysis included coding, categorizing, and analyzing themes. The resulting 5 themes were worker bee, traditional mentality/transitional workforce, education/training/network, traditional organizational culture, and fighting back. The findings also identified that gender inequality is apparent, women limit their potential growth, Queen Bees sting Wanna-Bees, and traditional organizational cultures maintain the status quo as the norm and enforce gendered stereotypes. The study leads to positive social change by raising awareness to policy-makers, educators, and women that can help set an agenda to overcome gender inequality.