Organization Development


Winter 12-8-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Robert Barnett

Second Advisor

Ana Patricia Nunez Cervera

Third Advisor

Jean Davidson


The purpose of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of women leaders’ gender and leader identities when they hold implicit biases that favor men or women in leadership. Data was collected via one-on-one interviews with ten women leaders and interviews were structured in two parts. First, participants provided insights into the thoughts, beliefs, and experiences that influenced their gender and leader identities. Second, participants took the gender-leadership implicit association test and described their thoughts and feelings about the results. Existential hermeneutic phenomenology was chosen as the methodology for the study because it allowed for exploration of the lived experiences of participants while remaining sensitive to the potentially disorienting nature of implicit bias. Interview data was analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Analysis resulted in four superordinate and twelve major themes related to women leaders’ gender and leader identities. The four superordinate themes were: influence of developmental environment; self in relation to gender; self in relation to leadership; and influence of industry and workplace. The twelve major themes were: gender norms in early environment; school experiences; influence of female role models; ingroup attitudes; gender stereotypes; gender and ethnic identity; agentic and communal leadership traits; gender relevance to leadership; affective views of leadership; workplace demographics; relationships with women leaders; and behavioral norms in workplace. Interview data further revealed five themes related to participants’ implicit bias attributions: developmental environment; explicit views on gender and leadership; experiences in the workplace; age; and the test itself.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.