Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Women comprise 50.8% of the United States population and 47% of the workforce, and over the past few decades, many women have been promoted to midmanagement positions in Fortune 500 and other major corporations, but few run companies at the executive levels. The research problem addressed the underrepresentation of women in top leadership positions in the executive suite. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of women in upper level management in large corporations on rising to the C-suite. A basic qualitative naturalistic inquiry was used employing interviews in collecting and analyzing the data. The targeted population was 15 women in senior positions between the ages of 25 and 60, who have worked for a company with a minimum of 5 years' experience. Introductions by friends and snowballing sampling were used to select 15 participants for the semistructured interviews. The results of the interviews were analyzed through the completion of a content analysis obtained through coding to allow for the identification of emergent themes. Key findings indicated the emergence of the following themes: loss of confidence, mentoring, sponsoring, and diversity. The study was socially significant in that it provided information for policy changes, access to sponsorship and mentorship programs, and promotion of social change in relation to gender equality in the workplace.