Single mothers are commonly characterized as low-income welfare recipients. In 2010, close to 30% of single mother households were below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010a) conversely leaving 70% of single mothers above the poverty line. Being a married working mother is challenging and comes with the need of several supports. With the growing divorce rate and the introduction of women choosing to become single mothers, the numbers of single working mothers are growing rapidly. In order to be a successful single mother certain factors need to be accounted for. This study focused on single mothers who are in high profile professional positions and looked at what supports it took; both internally and externally, to sustain their situations. Some highly regarded, prestigious positions that fell into this category include, but are not limited to, school administrators, writers/authors, successful entrepreneurs, attorneys, doctors, professors, upper level managers/supervisors, and executive directors. Also, this study looked at character traits of the identified mothers to see if there was an inner predisposition that positions them to be able to thrive in difficult situations. The findings suggest that in order for single mothers to succeed they need to establish a strong support network, have a flexible career and demonstrate strong leadership skills ranging from a Lazier Fair approach to a transformative one with a strong mentoring influence and affinity. The results from this study indicate that this population identified as resilient, passionate, and focused about their professional and personal lives. These single mothers are motivated by a high level of passion for both their work, and parenting their children, including providing a comfortable lifestyle and rich involvement in their children’s lives. Their use of support varied and formed a naturally occurring continuum spanning from “no support”, to “support is essential”. This population reported their relational style either increased or decreased in their willingness to seek out and accept assistance from others. In leadership style, this group of single mother professionals scored extremely high in having tendencies towards Transformational leadership and surprisingly, even higher in having tendencies towards Laissez-faire leadership.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Single mothers -- Employment -- United States; Leadership in women -- Case studies; Resilience (Personality trait) -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Schmieder-Ramirez, June;