This qualitative phenomenological research inquiry was designed to explore the lived experiences, challenges, and successes of 24 immigrant Nigerian women leaders living and working in California. It also explored the factors that influenced these women to aspire to leadership positions despite the challenges and closed doors they constantly face at work. The women who participated in this study were in leadership positions in both governmental and private sectors. Their positions ranged from a frontline supervisor to an assistant superintendent in a public school district. Like other minority groups living in the United States, including women, immigrant Nigerian women leaders face similar, or in some cases more, challenges than their White counterparts in the workplace. Through the interview questions, this study elicited the women’s experiences from early childhood through adulthood, including their current experiences and what they see in their future, as well as the influence these experiences have on their ability to be successful. The researcher conducted a one-on-one interview with each participant. Some participants were directly recruited by the researcher, and others were recruited by snowball sampling. Through the interviews, the participants shared the impact of their childhood upbringing, religion, and faith on their survival in the workplace as well as in the United States. Several themes emerged from the analysis of the interview data. The participants believed that they had to work harder than their White female counterparts to climb up the corporate ladder and to remain at each level they attained. They shared that they had to put in more hours and constantly had to prove that they had the skills and qualifications to do a job. They also noted that, despite their skills and education, they were not paid as well as, or compensated equitably for, doing the same work as their counterparts. Some discussed conflicts between their Nigerian culture and the American system and shared how they assimilated into their new environment. Some also expressed that their ascent sometimes prevented them from achieving some of the goals they set at work. Two participants expressed their frustrations with the American educational system because they did not receive credit for their degree or education in Nigeria and they had to start over again. Despite the challenges they faced, the women credited their faith, trust in God, and family upbringing as motivators for their success at work and in American society.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Nigerians -- Women -- California -- Leadership; Minority executives; Leadership in women -- California -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Weber, Margaret J.;