Date of Conferral
Research suggested that African American women (AAW) leaders are overlooked as candidates
for senior level positions in organizations. The problem that prompted this study was the lack of empirical research surrounding the intersectionality of race and gender and how this dual identity informed their leadership development and excluded AAW from the leadership promotion group identified by organizations. The research questions addressed how AAW described their career trajectory, strategies that were used to transform institutional barriers into leadership opportunities, how AAW leaders perceived their dual identity as contributing to their unique organizational experiences, and how AAW leaders perceived their role as mentors. This study was grounded in the critical race theory (CRT) as it pertains to the concept of the intersectionality of race and gender. Semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of 12 participants were used to obtain data along with thematic coding to analyze the data. Key findings included the women expressing both subtle and blatant racial and gender discrimination in the workplace. The participants identified self-advocacy as crucial to their success along with having strong mentors. One of the main conclusions was that the corporate world is a long- standing, white, male network and continues to be an obstacle for women in today's workplace. Recommendations for future research include studying bi-racial women and women who are in lower managerial roles to identify whether they experience similar obstacles as women in senior leadership roles. Social change implications include organizational modifications across multiple industry types that would create more positive perceptions, descriptions, and trust in the leadership abilities of AAW.