Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Karel Kunst-Swanger

Abstract

Although many studies have been conducted on the increased pressure and stress facing women who are trying to fulfill work and family demands, little is known about African American women in executive positions and their perspectives about work-life balance. A particular gap in the research literature exists on the lived experience of African American nonprofit executive women in maintaining work-life balance. The conceptual framework of this phenomenological study was the bidirectional frame of both work interfering with family and family interfering with work. Data were collected through semistructured telephone interviews of 12 African American women ages 30 to 45 and with children under the age of 18 who work as full-time executive directors for nonprofit organizations in the Northeastern US. The data from the transcribed interviews were stored, coded, reported in themes, and summarized by using the data analysis program HyperRESEARCH, followed by member checking with the participants. The participants included suggestions to improve the work-life balance for nonprofit executive women, such as exercising, networking and strong family support, delegating and scheduling work responsibilities, and utilizing flexible work schedules; however, it was clear from the interviews that the participants were not practicing the suggestions they provided to help balance work-life activities. The participants found it difficult to combine their own work-family responsibilities because of the time constraints at work. The implications for positive social change include informing organizations of the need to recognize the importance of family-friendly policies and flexible work arrangements, and to implement them in the workplace.