Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dorothy Ettling


Norman St. Clair


Absael Antelo


Jeannie Scott


This qualitative narrative study explored the experiences of 10 women who worked in Corporate America and reported to female supervisors, and the perceptions they attached to those relationships with regard to their professional growth and career advancement. The main goal of the study was to understand how these women felt their female leaders either helped or hindered their climb up the corporate ladder. The Social Cognitive Theory of Gender Development and the narrative inquiry framework were used to shed light on the experiences reported by the female employees and how their gender and the gender of their supervisors may have played a role in the challenges these women faced in getting ahead. Through interviews, the participants told their stories and explained their expectations of a female leader’s role in developing and nurturing their professional growth and, in most cases, their disappointment with the lack of support they felt they received. The study revealed the women’s perceptions of why most felt their female leaders were not championing their career advancement. The research also uncovered the participants’ specific ideas around the type of relationship they wanted from their female supervisors as well as the kind of development opportunities they felt would be most helpful to their professional growth. The study’s finding showed that female leaders need to examine their behaviors toward female employees and reflect on ways that they could develop and nurture their talent and drive so that more females can ascend into the leadership ranks in Corporate America.