News headlines are filled with unequal treatment in the workplace. However, there are also inspirational stories that encourage young women to face the challenges they are presented as they become executives in corporate America.
The purpose of this study was to interview women executives within corporate America to identify similar means of navigating women-specific issues they may have been presented with within their industry. More specifically, the questions sought to identify how these women became successful within their industry and how their female identities may have provided benefits to them, professionally. Interviewees were selected on a multitude of factors, title and status in company, industry, including availability, mutual connections, and demographics. Interviews were conducted both in person, over the phone, via web video conference and via email. All interviewees were asked the same questions, and interviews ranged from 25-45 minutes each. Each one was recorded and transcribed in order to facilitate comparison between stories, experiences, and other mentions.
The initial intention of analyzing the interviews and stories of these executives was to identify common factors that unified their stories. There were nine categories that the interviews sought to investigate: work-life balance, starting off strong, daily routines, mentorship/support, leadership, impact and legacy, advice and motivation, pros of being a woman, biggest challenges/cons. However, the interviews revealed that there were a plethora of unique factors that identified the stories these women had to tell. Overall, 5/8 of the executives believed that their female identity provided an advantage to them in the corporate sector, 2/8 women said their identity was a neutral factor, and only one woman stated she felt it placed her at a disadvantage. Further, this study concludes that the stories of impenetrable glass ceilings and roadblocks are balanced to some degree by stories of success within the corporate sector. There were 3 key themes for their narratives for success, having a support system, putting yourself first, and giving back.