Stories of Black Women Leaders of Non-Profit and For-Profit Organizations: A Narrative Study

Ericka Jones Whitaker, Fayetteville State University


The increasing number of women in leadership have brought about enormous changes in the societal norms of American society. Increasingly, women have viably presented themselves in both organizational and political roles and have been identifiably recognizable as change agents in their respective roles. Women comprise over half of the workforce in America, and their powerful presence does not go unnoticed, however, they continue to experience gender bias which impedes not only professional development but their leadership journey as well. Although the presence of women has improved significantly over the years, there remains a significant gap in the number of females in leadership roles. Moreover, Black female leaders experience even greater barriers associated with what can be characterized as a concrete ceiling; impassable blockades associated with social stigmas of racism driven by gender. African American women endure racial and gender prejudices that can be seen across the spectrum of professional careers. While most research has focused on the perceptions of White men and White women in leadership positions, some researchers use the intersectionality race and gender to explore the experiences of non- White people in the United States, such as African American women in leadership positions. Literature of Black female leaders exists; however, it remains limited in nature especially in corporate America. As a means to add to the body of knowledge, this study explored the journeys of 16 African American women in leadership positions of for-profit and non-profit organizations through the lens of Black Feminist Thought. The purpose of this qualitative research with a narrative inquiry was to explore their lived experiences to illuminate the challenges and barriers they may encounter in their quest for career advancement. Through the collection and analysis of open-ended, semi-structured interviews, this study highlights the experiences and perspectives of the participants and identified key factors that attributed to their advancement. The goal of this study was to deepen the understanding of African American women in corporate America. A secondary purpose of this qualitative study was to enrich current research and further expand topics related to African American women in leadership roles. Key Terms: African American Women in Leadership, Black Women Leaders, African American Women in Corporate America, Black Feminist Thought

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black studies|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Whitaker, Ericka Jones, "Stories of Black Women Leaders of Non-Profit and For-Profit Organizations: A Narrative Study" (2018). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI13872028.