Date of Award

8-1986

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify variables that have contributed to the growth and development of successful women and to explore whether those variables were the same for Black and White women by comparing the perceptions and backgrounds of women who have reached top level positions in the fields of education, business, human services, and government.

Data were collected by questionnaires from 547 women respondents out of a sample of 1,500 identified in Who's Who in America (43rd ed., 1985) and Who's Who Among Black Americans (4th ed., 1985). The response rate was 38.4%; 298 (19.9%) were Black women and 278 (18.6%) were White women.

The questionnaire covered the life histories of Black and White women leaders with questions drawn from the research literature and from taped interviews. The data were submitted to chi-square cross tabulations of each category of nominal variables by race. Interval variables were analyzed by t tests.

Research questions which guided this study were: (1) Are there differences between races in the patterns of growth and development of successful Black and White women? (2) Are there differences between races in the variables that affect career development of successful Black and White women? (3) Are there differences between races in the impact of race identity and gender identity in the experiences of successful Black and White women? (4) Are there differences between races on views of work and leadership of successful Black and White Women?

The conclusions from this study were that (a) successful women of both races appear to share common characteristics of similar personalities, supportive family backgrounds regardless of race or socioeconomic status, high achievement during their school years, some adolescent turbulence, positive role models, an awareness of inequities in organizations and institutions, and an ability to confront and to overcome negative social forces directed towards women; and (b) it appears that patterns of growth and development, career development, impact of race and gender, and the views on work and leadership are different for Black and White women.

Future studies can focus on identifying variables that successful women have in common and on identifying unique areas for intervention in the guidance and training of Black and White women who aspire to positions of leadership.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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