A Phenomenological Study of Underrepresentation of Senior Level African American Women in Corporations

A Phenomenological Study of Underrepresentation of Senior Level African American Women in Corporations

Author: 
LaShonda M. Jackson-Dean
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomena of underrepresentation of African American women in corporate America. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 African American women with current or previous experience working in corporate America in senior-level roles, who acknowledged that racism and sexism exists in corporate America, and were willing to share their experiences. A phenomenological methodology was used to explore the lived experiences of these women. Results of the analysis uncovered five themes that described experiences of practices leading to inequality, diversity, leadership journeys, leadership practices and racial perceptions. Participants employed several strategies to cope with experiences of racism and sexism in the workplace. Theoretical and leadership implications, limitations, recommendations, as well as suggestions for future research were discussed.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated in the honor and loving memory of my father, Mr. Gene Ray Jackson (1945-2001). Through his love and care, I am the woman I am today! From a child to a grown woman, he instilled in me his “break your plate philosophy”. His philosophy entailed me getting my education, and my living for myself so, if I found myself in an unsavory position, I could leave without hesitation. He would say “you can eat your food, “break your plate” and move on to your next destination.” In short, he taught me to know my worth and not settle. I still subscribe to this philosophy today. This study is also dedicated to the memories of my other heavenly angels: Mr. Aaron Williams, Sr. and Mrs. Beatrice Williams (Maternal Grandparents) Mr. Walter and Mrs. Katie Mays (Maternal Great-grandparents) Mr. James Williams and Mrs. Lucian Brazile-Williams (Maternal Great-Grandparents) Mr. John H. Adams and Mrs. Ida Jewel Adams (Paternal Grandparents) Mr. Wade House and Mrs. Fannie House (Paternal Grandparents) Mrs. Ida B. Williams McNairy (Aunt) Rest in Love and Peace.
Acknowledgements: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my husband, friend and confidant, Paul M. Dean, Jr., whose fervent prayers, belief, patience, support, and unconditional love sustained me through this academic achievement. I am forever indebted to and thankful for you. You took care of the children, the house and me. Love you Big Daddy! To my children, Langston “Flipper” and Paul III., “Thumper”, I am grateful for your encouragement and love. I strive daily to be the best role model and mother that I can be to the both of you. The gratitude I feel for your understanding, and enthusiasm for my doctoral journey cannot be put into words. Now, I ask that the both of you do the same and continue your educational journeys. I would like to acknowledge and express my sincere gratitude to my parents Florine Jackson-House and James House, thank you for convincing me to pursue my Doctorate after my MBA. I appreciate the extra push you have given me throughout my life. I will never forget my mother’s “subtle push” at my MBA graduation, while the candidates were being hooded for their Doctorate she stood up and pointed at them. This was code for “You’re not finished until you get that Doctor’s hat and stole.” To my uncle/brother Terry Williams, Sr., thank you for being the best brother in the world. Thank you for your support and love during this process. I could always depend on you to give me a call when you knew I needed it most. To my best friend for over twenty years, Barbara Goodall-Hinton, thank you for your FIA “Foot in Ass” Strategy, that kept me going when I wanted to give up. To my colleague and friend Dr. Eva Lundahl-Philpot, my dissertation navigator. Our relationship started from cohorts on our Doctoral journey leading to a beautiful sisterhood. Thank you for your guidance, love and support. To my uncle Isiah Davis (Uncle Jr.), thank you for the calls of encouragement, your love and support. To my aunt Dicie Tobar (Aunt Dicie), thank you for the prayers, love and support you have given me all of my life. To my dear friend Patricia White, I truly thank you for your elegant demeanor, professionalism and your words of wisdom that you have poured into me over the years. Thank you for your love, support and your friendship. Thank you to my soror sisters, The Delta Diamonds of Pi Eta Delta, professional women leaders and scholar practitioners focused on supporting and recognizing women who achieve the highest level of academics, a terminal degree. I would also like to make sure I give an acknowledgement to my friends and family from my childhood neighborhood of Shondaville in Forrest City, AR. To the FCAAAWDS (Forrest City Arkansas African American Women Doctor Society), Drs. Brenda Bradley, Tonya Doby-Broughton, Tekeda Freeman-Ferguson, Sophia Parchman-Williams, Tiffany Perkins-Munn, Yolanda Pickett-Olivera and now, LaShonda M. Jackson-Dean, you are truly an inspiration to me. Thank you to my employees of my businesses, Jackson-Dean Investments, LLC, Elegant Expressions1.com and Maid to Shine 1. I appreciate you for continuing to perform even when I could not be present. I would also like to acknowledge and thank my esteemed Dissertation chair and committee, Drs. Nancy Arduengo, Frederic Will and Gerald Petersen-Incorvaia. To the women who agreed to participate in this study, the courage and perseverance you have shown through your professional career as senior-level African American women in corporate America has inspired me to strive for more. Thank you so much. I hope my study will bring more awareness to and understanding of professional Black women’s experiences in the workplace. I would also like to thank all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends, and frenemies who have offered their support and encouragement during this long process. The pride on your faces and joy in your hearts are what helped me endure when the light at end of the tunnel seemed dim. I stand daily on word of God that says, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” Phil. 4:13. Because of all of you and through the grace of God, I have earned something that has only been accomplished by a small percentage of the population. For that, I say, THANK YOU, and I LOVE YOU ALL.