Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


George Larkin


Little research explores the experiences of women who have successfully attained careers in the highest echelons of federal service. Using Gregory-Mina's conceptualization of the great man theory as the foundation, the purpose of this general qualitative study was to understand the experiences and achievements of 7 women who advanced in the federal leadership hierarchy. This study used secondary data that is part of the Public Administration Genome Project holdings and these data were analyzed using inductive coding followed by a thematic analysis procedure. Data analysis revealed common experiences including that all of the women experienced a lack of mentors and role models, they encountered significant work culture barriers, and they shared the sense that advancement opportunities existed but were not easily attained and in many cases involved women having to relocate or accept less than ideal positions in order to align themselves with opportunities for success. The study provides hope to current and future generations of women by highlighting success stories about those who broke the glass ceiling. The implications for positive social change include recommendations to the Office of Personnel Management to expand civil service opportunities for women leaders in a way that is appealing to the target population.