This purpose of this dissertation is to understand how women senior leaders in the information technology (IT) industry experience leading with authenticity in the context of a male-dominated work environment. The IT industry has been unsuccessful in attracting and retaining women in leadership positions. For decades, women have faced challenges with gender biases in the workplace. Research has shown that in some predominantly male work environments, women experience pressures to conform to long-established norms in order to advance up the corporate ladder. Using a phenomenological methodology, this study examines how women describe their present perceptions of leading with authenticity in the IT industry. Authenticity is defined as the experience of being true to one’s self (Vannini, 2004). It represents a healthy alignment between internal values and external behaviors (Ruderman & Rogolsky, 2013). This study uses the social constructivist theory of gender as a theoretical framework to analyze the experiences women face with regard to gender equality and individual authenticity in the workplace. Moustakas’s (1994) method of analysis of phenomenological data is used to analyze the verbatim transcripts from one-on-one interviews with nine female leaders in the IT industry. Overall, the female participants epitomized authenticity at work. Based on key findings, a new definition for authenticity at work is proposed. Individual authenticity at work can be defined as understanding your core values, principles, and beliefs, and living them out every day through your actions and words, regardless of situation or circumstance. Furthermore, authenticity can be viewed as bringing your whole self to work; integrating your personal and professional self as identities that coexist. While the present study provides support for the notion of authenticity as a state-based phenomenon, a new conceptualization of authenticity as a skill-based phenomenon is proposed. The DIvA framework is introduced as a tool for developing individual authenticity among females in the workplace. IT organizations can do more to attract, retain, and develop women in IT. Women and men alike must feel empowered to bring their best selves forward and to develop their full capabilities along the lines of excellence.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Leadership in women; Information technology -- Social aspects; Authenticity (Philosophy)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Leigh, Doug;