If I Were A Boy - A qualitative case study about the barriers to female career advancement and how these can be mitigated by leadership development programs

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för företagande och ledning

Abstract: Women have been entering organizations at about the same rate as men, yet remain dramatically underrepresented at senior levels. Considering that this is the reality of the labor market, while in fact companies with a larger share of females outperform those with a smaller share, consequently calls for an organizational reaction. This study will therefore empirically confirm theoretically identified barriers women are experiencing today in their path towards leadership positions to find out if leadership development programs could be a potential way of mitigating the confirmed barriers. This by shaping its participants to become autonomous thinkers through transformative learning. A case company study was conducted with Barbro Dahlbom-Hall Konsult AB through which an interview study was conducted with 16 females holding leadership positions at different organizations throughout Sweden. The findings from the study imply that women experience barriers to their career advancement and in order to mitigate the barriers, leadership development program content is considered to be a means of delivering the awareness necessary to become an autonomous thinker through transformative learning. The research resulted in the finding of a new barrier, referred to as lack of female support, and the discarding of four of the leadership development program content elements and their ability to mitigate the confirmed barriers. Finally the remaining content elements were not found to mitigate two of the identified barriers, referred to as pipeline and adverse selection. The results enhance the knowledge about what content elements can be considered valuable for leadership development program providers in order to mitigate these barriers. It further contributes to the practitioners offering leadership development programs in terms of support and inspiration on the elements to include when designing a program.

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