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Title: Women at the top : an investigation into the lived experience of women executives holding top posts in the UK
Author: Wiggin, Christa J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 9300
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2019
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In the contemporary workplace persistent gender imbalance at top executive levels is a matter of public and political debate in the context of a growing realisation that this phenomenon is not only a social and cultural problem, it is also a business problem. From the perspective of improving business outcomes this thesis listens to the lived experience of 12 women holding, or who have recently held, top executive posts in the UK. The research includes two face to face interviews with each participant pursuing an abductive methodology and constructive grounded theory analysis of the data. Key findings of the study include: A unique combination of elite characteristics demonstrated by the women in this study which may inform and target recruitment practice challenging the assumption that a larger pipeline per se will lead to more women taking up top posts. Knowledge can be extended by considering public and private sectors together, including participants from the armed services, legal services and the police. An increase in the number of non-executive directors on boards and top management teams may not increase the likelihood of more executive women at the top. Individual relational capital and emotional choices may be key factors in whether women choose to take up a top post, or not. Sponsorship is a prime driver in promoting women of high potential towards top posts. The print press may account for considerable talent loss at the top in the UK. The domestic contract is key; purchasing private childcare creates financial strain and may contribute to lost talent. Generational change, the changed expectations and ambitions of women in the future, may mean less, not more, women arrive in top posts. The views of women in this qualitative and explorative study are not intended to be representative of other women or of their organisations, but their views are powerful, and there are strong emergent themes which may guide further research and influence perspectives on the likelihood of achieving gender balance in the foreseeable future.
Supervisor: Grisoni, Louise Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral