Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy and Leadership

First Committee Member

Cecilia Maldonado

Second Committee Member

Doris Watson

Third Committee Member

Tiffany Tyler

Fourth Committee Member

Howard Gordon

Number of Pages



There is an increasing disparity of women in the IT field, when compared to men, specifically within IT executive leadership roles. The number of women in IT executive leadership lags drastically behind men IT executives and has gone down by five percent since 2008. Despite significant growth in the IT field women are not growing with it. IT jobs are expected to increase by 1.5 million in the next decade. The purpose and central question of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of women and how they develop as IT leaders. Beginning with 19 broad questions, the researcher explored the lived experiences of nine women in IT leadership positions that lived in the Midwest, Southwest and West regions of the United States. Long and in-depth interviews were conducted with participants in order to understand their leadership development experiences in their change in job requirements, change in time application, change in skill set and change in work values as they transitioned from one level of leadership to the next. Participants were women in IT mid- level management and IT executive level leadership that had more than one year of experience in their IT leadership role. Drotter, Charan and Noel’s (2011) conceptual leadership development pipeline model was used as the framework for this study. For the purpose of this study, IT middle management roles are referred to as passages 3 or 4, and IT executive leadership roles are referred to as passages 5 or 6 on the leadership development pipeline spectrum.

The phenomenological analytical framework strategy developed by Moustakas (1994) was used to analyze and interpret data that were collected from participants’ interviews, resumes, biographies, LinkedIn profiles and other pertinent data such as professional membership affiliations, company and personal websites when available. The phenomenology framework was used to explore and analyze how women in IT fields view their world of leadership development, which revealed the following eight themes: (1) formal and informal leadership preparation, (2) mentoring, sponsorship and networking, (3) IT workplace and cultural challenges, (4) purposeful and strategic thinking, (5) managing transitions and self-renewal, (6) work life balance and family influence, and (7) strength and resilience. Although some of the findings in this study validated what was found in the literature, new knowledge was also uncovered as well as the need for future research, including how early do women in IT fields start planning a leadership development strategy for executive leadership compared to when men in IT executive leadership fields start. The study shed light on the leadership development and value of women in IT mid- level management and in IT executive leadership positions through their own voices and lived experiences.


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Library and Information Science

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




The author of this work is interested in communicating with others who share an interest in this research. Please feel free to contact Marilyn via her email address for questions, comments, or research discussion.


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