Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Dorcas Francisco


Adolescent girls of color (GOC) experience significant changes in social expectations during puberty based on gender and racial inequity. This divergence usually changes the trajectory for GOC relative to leadership development and may affect their career choices, life decisions, and overall directions for growth. This qualitative study explored the experiences of women of color (WOC) who hold senior leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies. Critical theory grounded this study as its aim is to identify marginalization of any kind and determine ways to free those who are oppressed. Research questions focused on the perceived challenges the participants experienced during adolescence and the intervention strategies that aided them in overcoming those challenges. A qualitative case study used purpose-driven semi structured interviews of 4 WOC who hold senior leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies. Data were coded, categorized, and analyzed to uncover themes. The study results revealed four themes based on data analysis of the participants' responses: (a) lack of representation, (b) lack of direction, (c) racial and gender discrimination, and (d) lack of collaboration. Identifying strategies that aid GOC in overcoming gender and racial inequity relative to leadership development may support policy creation that helps provide funding for nonprofit leaders whose mission is to prepare adolescent GOC for leadership. This study may also initiate conversations about how the intersection of gender and race adds additional barriers for adolescent GOC as they are shaping their identities.