The nonprofit sector is the third largest employing industry in the United States and impacts almost 10% of the economy (Roeger, Blackwood, & Pettijohn, 2012; Salamon, Sokolowski, & Geller, 2012). Women comprise over 75% of the nonprofit workforce, yet men hold over 80% of leadership positions (Bronznick & Goldenhar, 2009; McInnes, 2008). The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to examine the work-life balance practices of women leaders in nonprofit organizations and determine experiences impacting their life course. The ultimate goal was to gain insight from women leaders in nonprofit organizations to identify strategies for more women to advance into leadership roles. The researcher utilized a qualitative methodology with the life course theory developed by Giele (2008). The research questions were: 1. What demographic factors, if any, are related to work-life balance issues for women leaders in nonprofit organizations? 2. How is the life course for women leaders in nonprofit organizations impacted, if at all, by experiences, identity, motivation, adaptive and relational style? 3. What strategies, if any, are women leaders in nonprofit organizations utilizing for work-life balance? 20 women leaders in nonprofit organizations served as the study population. The women held positions of vice president or above or positions equivalent to vice president if the organization did not use such titles. Participants provided socio-demographic data and responses to 5 sets of questions regarding early adulthood, childhood and early adolescence, current adulthood, future adulthood and coping strategies. The key findings and conclusions revealed challenges with work-life balance associated with diverse demographic factors. Experiences related to identity, relational style, drive and motivation and adaptive style influenced life courses and are anticipated to influence the future life courses of participants, specifically regarding decisions on educational attainment, partnerships, family, careers, and social involvement. Work-life balance strategies were discovered in 4 areas: self-care, partners, professional skills, and social support. Overall, the research provided a composite of the participants as women leaders in nonprofit organizations, including their backgrounds and life stories. The research demonstrated that work-life balance continues to be an issue and an interest for women leaders in nonprofit organizations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Women executives; Work-life balance; Nonprofit organizations -- Management

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Weber, Margaret J.;