Social Capital Implications for the Gender Gap in Organizational Leadership: A Case Study of Executive Women Leaders Through a Lens of Intersectionality
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentHood College Graduate School
RightsAttribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
The underrepresentation of women in U.S. business leadership persists due to gender barriers that negatively affect women’s ability to acquire leadership roles. The purpose of this qualitative study is to learn from the lived experiences of barriers and the strategies that women use to overcome their barriers, so that it may give insight to women who have not yet found effective strategies to overcome their barriers and to eliminate the gender gap in organizational leadership. A case study approach was used to look at how American women executive leaders have overcome barriers to leadership based on the social capital theory (SCT) constructs of field, habitus, and capital. From the literature review, conceptual constructs of barriers that decreased their social capital were categorized as external and internal. Strategies to overcome gendered barriers to leadership, which increased their social capital, were examined from conceptual constructs of individual and organizational strategies. This study consisted of an online survey, one-on-one interviews, and focus group discussions to triangulate the findings of the cumulative effect in one’s career of developing and using social capital to acquire executive leadership positions. Human capital skill development was recommended to the participants by mentors and bosses to improve upon their deficiencies. These mentoring relationships gained them social capital from their allies and sponsors for upward career mobility. Future research and application of social capital development early and often in women’s careers are recommended to end the gender gap in executive leadership.
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