Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Frances Goldman

Abstract

The 2013 United States Census data documents the significant underrepresentation of women of color in the information technology (IT) field. Women of color (Black, Hispanic, Asian or self-classified as non-White) represent an untapped resource in an industry with a low unemployment rate, high starting salaries, and a projected 18% growth rate by the year 2022. Prior researchers have studied White women in IT and have not provided a voice to women of color leaders. The specific problem addressed was the under-representation of women of color IT leaders in corporate America. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate the experiences of women of color as senior IT executives (e.g. chief information officers, vice presidents, directors, etc.) in order to understand the success factors that have contributed to their ability to attain these positions. The research questions addressed how select demographic, individual, and organizational level factors serve as predictors of the presence of women of color as senior IT leaders in corporations. A purposeful sampling approach selected 22 senior women of color IT leaders in corporate America. Data was analyzed using the transcendental phenomenological process, which aligned interview statements to the research questions and identified 2 broad themes. This study found that change needs to occur at the broader organizational level. It challenged the traditional leadership IT definition that seeks to conform women of color to the social requirements of the largely White male IT population. Social change will occur when changes are made within this organizational culture to have a broader, inclusive definition of an IT leader, and through training of all (men and women) to be transformed to this new definition.