Date of Conferral

2018

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Stephanie Hoon

Abstract

This qualitative phenomenological study explored the development of women with an engineering background who became leaders. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of female engineering leaders in the New York utility sector. The research problem was why few women with engineering degrees obtain leadership positions. Women comprise half the total working population, yet few hold leadership positions, especially in the utility sector. In this study, 28 women in the New York utility sector shared experiences on their progression from engineer to leadership. The conceptual framework was the Moustakas phenomenological approach, investigating the humanistic properties of female leaders with backgrounds in engineering and Bandura's social cognitive theory on the role of self-efficacy for women. Through the phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews captured the challenges and successes each woman has faced and identified themes that emerged from those experiences. The modified van Kaam method of phenomenology was used for data analysis to capture the experiences and perceptions of female engineers in leadership positions. Key findings from this study indicated how working in teams helped build the self-efficacy of women during their undergraduate studies and fostered effective teamwork in their work environment. Workâ??life balance encouraged female engineering leaders to go further in their career because it allowed them stability and the ability to advance. Through this study, positive social change may occur for women seeking to pursue engineering degrees who are striving for leadership roles in traditionally male fields.

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