Cortney Baker


Between 2004 and 2014, healthcare jobs were among the fastest growing occupations in the U.S., adding 4.3 million positions and expected job growth of 30.3%. The majority of the healthcare workforce is overwhelmingly dominated by women. However, when it comes to leadership positions, especially executive and board levels, females are considerably underrepresented. Interestingly, though, women, more than men, are reported to demonstrate traits such as transparency, compassion, and support for teamwork, which would benefit organizations as they venture into the future of healthcare delivery. In recent years, women have made minimal entry into the highest ranks of managerial positions of healthcare in American corporations. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to identify experiences, barriers, and obstacles that women in healthcare organizations have overcome in their efforts to obtain successful leadership positions. Ten women in varying capacities of healthcare leadership positions from across the United States engaged in open-ended interviews to discuss what obstacles and adversities they have faced and conquered to advance to their levels of leadership. The data focused on career paths, obstacles, leadership qualities, demographics, and experiences. The participants identified their perceived leadership styles to be centered around the importance of communication and what they deemed soft skills, suggesting a different style from their male counterparts. The results of this study confirmed that even in the 21st century, career barriers such as family responsibilities, gender, lack of self-confidence, and current career challenges continue to exist for women seeking executive leadership positions in the healthcare field.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Health services administrators -- United States -- Interviews; Women executives -- United States -- Interviews; Career development -- Psychological aspects; Leadership -- Psychological aspects -- Case studies; Medical care -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Harvey, Andrew;