Date of Conferral







Penelope Laws


This qualitative study investigated the personal descriptions and experiences of women in chief financial officer roles for Fortune 1000 companies, educational institutions, and private entities. Research on women in senior leadership roles is typically reflective of those in chief executive officer positions rather than chief financial officer positions. The literature is also limited on the ascension of women into chief financial officer roles and the influences of mentoring on career progression. The purpose of the study was to capture individual points of view from participants' lived experiences of leadership advancement, gender inequality, and mentoring in chief financial officer roles in order to discover meaning and understanding of the phenomenon. The interview questions for this study examined (a) the effect of the glass ceiling on career ascension, (b) the influence of mentoring as either a mentee or mentor, (c) the possibility of token management roles, (d) the impact of pay disparities, (e) the implications of leadership style, (f) the influence of gender discrimination, and (g) the organizational culture in limiting or promoting women in leadership roles. The theoretical framework of the study included social learning theory, feminist theory, role congruity theory, and relational-cultural theory. Data were collected via personal interviews with 10 participants, which were audio recorded, transcribed, and coded for themes. The results showed that although gender inequalities exist, there has been progress with the mentoring and promotion of women into chief financial officer positions. The study has the potential to effect social change by emphasizing the importance of mentoring programs for women that not only address professional aspirations and goals, but also create balance for personal accomplishments.