According to the latest figures from the U.S. Labor Department, 50% of all managerial posts are held by women, yet few women hold a top position in their organization. Of the 1,000 largest revenue producing, publicly traded companies in the United States, only 20 are led by a woman. Women hold only 15.7% of all senior executive positions in Fortune 500 companies, yet traditional women's leadership styles of open communication and inclusion have been recognized as appropriate and even best practices. Women climbing the corporate ladder face myriad challenges. In addition to the obstacles they face, the very choices women make in pursuit of satisfaction in life are fraught with difficulty and stress. However, a successful business career can also bring with it a feeling of accomplishment and other rewards. How does this affect the life of high achieving women? The purpose of this study was to define the success strategies of high achieving women in the field of business. This entailed determining what obstacles to success these high achieving women overcame and how success affected their life satisfaction. The framework chosen for this study was a qualitative design using a phenomenological approach, which examined the meaning of human experiences from the vantage point of those who actually experienced that phenomenon. The participants chosen held the position level of Vice President or above in Fortune 1,000 companies. The method of sampling was purposive with a maximum variation strategy. The process of data collection was through semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was used to determine common themes and validity and reliability were ensured with the contributions of the Panel of Experts and two interraters. The results of this study identified 18 major and 9 minor success strategies that high achieving women have used in combination to achieve career success and 12 obstacles that had to be overcome. With regard to life satisfaction, this study identified two negative and three positive themes which described the elements their career success has contributed to their life satisfaction. This research was aimed at helping up-and-coming women in their pursuit of career success and life satisfaction.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Leadership in women; Women executives; Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;