The Refractive Thinker® Vol XI: Women in Leadership
The Refractive Thinker® Press 2016
Number of Pages: 198


Join Sally Helgesen and contributing scholars as they discuss research regarding women in leadership. The conversations contain research that will influence how women’s leadership is understood and supported in the years ahead. This volume provides fresh insights into mentoring and coaching practices, an examination of the importance of developing a voice, the impact of continued shifts in demographics, and the role of women in specific cultures in articulating a sustainable vision of the future. Such contributions will expand and enrich the programmatic offerings that help speed women on their leadership journeys into the future.

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RT Vol XI: Foreword
Women leaders have made extraordinary progress in recent decades, both in terms of positional power and as influencers of the larger culture. Yes, women remain notably under-represented in certain sectors, but when contrasted with the centuries and millennia in which women’s views and voices were almost entirely absent from the public sphere, the speed with which they have gained authority and begun making decisions at the highest levels is astonishing and of world-historical import . . .
Ch 1: Refractive Mentoring Strategies for Rising Beyond Biases and Barriers to Leadership Promotions
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory research is to continue a discussion on the needs of systemic mentoring programs using refractive thinking practices to address barriers to promotion and gender biases. What is not known is whether persistent underrepresentation links to the lack of women motivation and experience, generational differences, ethnicity, same gender partiality, or current leader self-preservation. The appearance of gender bias or barriers for women is not fully known because research data appear to focus on male to female biases (a singular focus) rather than the multiplicity of gender and generational factors present in the workforce. Traditional approaches to mentoring appears to be a cookie cutter approach for a male leadership workplace rather than an innovative model that provide women the flexibility to become administrators while balancing the needs of family and other social activities. Findings in this research show a monotonous or stagnated approach of mentoring females for leadership positions. Barriers appear to focus on gender discriminatory biases creating a guilty complex for women who desire to balance an innate need to have a family while seeking an administrative position. Recommendations for further research include an exploration for specific data collection regarding the perceptions and lived experiences of women who experienced bias and barriers. An additional recommendation is to explore whether innovative mentoring practices using principles of refractive thinking increased the percentage of women securing leadership positions.
Ch. 2: Mentoring Women in Educational Leadership through the Dissertation Process: A College Professor's Thoughts and Experiences
The purpose of this study was to explore how a female doctoral student describes her relationship with the female faculty academic mentor assigned to her during the dissertation writing process. Moreover, this study sought to determine if the benefits of the academic mentor-mentee relationship were fundamental in helping the candidate navigate through the dissertation writing process, and ultimately graduate with a doctorate degree. Nearly 50% of doctoral candidates fail to earn the degree (Butin, 2010; Council of Graduate Schools PhD Completion Project, 2008). Holmes, Danner, Gibson, and Woods (2016) reported on a study conducted by Bair and Haworth (1999) that the dissertation process is a common cause of attrition among doctoral students.
The researcher used open-ended survey questions to capture the lived experiences of the subject in this study. The responses to the questions served as data for answering the central research question. An analysis of the major themes and the subthemes, as well as the overlapping themes, and the number of times the participant mentioned the themes in the responses was the procedure used for assigning meaning to the data.
Subject A articulated the following valued characteristics when describing her relationship with her academic mentor: dedication, commitment, sense of comfort, openness, good listener, effective communicator, and honesty. The Subject credited the following successes to her relationship with the female faculty academic mentor: improved performance in the dissertation writing process as the relationship with the mentor forbade anything less than professional writing; and remaining in the program and not transferring or giving up. The recurring themes in this study indicated the importance of acquiring an academic mentors for many women who are trudging through the dissertation writing process; and second, these same recurring themes showed how fundamental a positive relationship between the mentor and mentee can be in completing a doctorate.
Ch. 3: Using Leadership to Improve Firm Performance through Knowledge Management
As a retired 23-year U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer, I understand knowledge management, innovative thinking, and completion of a mission. The knowledge management aspect interested me in examining the relationship of knowledge management, innovation, and firm performance. As a leader, I obtained and shared knowledge to attain solutions, sometimes with a short response time in order to complete a job, task, or mission. The same can be said of any organization within any industry. Leaders need to know how the knowledge and innovation affect their performance in support of their customers. Before becoming a leader, it was important to understand and support the relationship between knowledge management, innovation, and firm performance. Leaders are empowered to make decisions, as well as to share knowledge and find opportunities to incorporate innovation to achieve the performance of the Navy and now, post-Navy in the ship repair industry. As a leader, I am also empowered to empower others within the workforce.
Knowledge management is meant to be understood as limitless without gender biases and supported throughout the organizational culture. This study was an examination of the relationship of knowledge management, and innovation on firm performance of United States ship repair. The information gleaned through this study shows a statistically significant relationship of knowledge management and innovation on firm performance. This study included examination of a real world business problem as a means to counter the continued reduction in labor forces aged 25 to 54. The study findings offer solutions for organizational leadership to use in preventing the loss of knowledge to increase firm performance.
Ch. 4: Native American Women in Leadership Working toward a Sustainable Future
The purpose of this case study was to discover the strategies leaders use to provide corporate social responsibility (CSR) processes in the tribal gaming industry. Tribal gaming leaders participated in a focus group and seven semi-structured interviews with to attain research data and conclude the strategies leaders use to provide CSR processes in the tribal gaming industry.

I employed purposeful sampling, a snowball strategy, and sent an e-mail invitation to prospective participants. Men and women tribal gaming leaders participated in the interviews; five men and one woman participated in a focus group session; five additional men and two women from the same gaming organization participated in interview sessions. The data was analyzed and revealed eight themes that describe the leader strategies used in the tribal gaming industry toward a sustainable future. The eight relevant themes that emerged from the triangulation of the data were business value, collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, motivation/innovation, philanthropic opportunity, resilience, and strategic vision.

This chapter is written in dedication to two instrumental women leaders. Dr. Patricia Fusch has been a wonderful mentor and friend to me; she continues to help others achieve their scholarly goals. My late Aunt Joie was an inspirational leader; she used innovation, motivation, and communication to keep her gang in line.
Ch. 5: Creating Refractive Thinking in the Classroom to Inspire Accounting Leadership in Women
College and university students who focus their time towards internships at an accounting firm open doors for further networking. Uniting women and community service is empowering when accounting firms strategically targets their volunteer programs. Targeted volunteering provides women accountants with networking and the opportunity to develop better networking skills to advance to leadership and partner opportunities in their accounting firms. This dynamic design aligns women’s since of purpose with professional goals. The dynamic provides a frame of reference between loyalty and career. Women enjoy the opportunities to make a difference while working with colleagues and community service accommodates generation diversity.
Ch. 6: The Power of Promoting Women in Leadership Through Mentoring and Networking
The Power of Promoting Women in Leadership through Mentoring and Networking features research on the power that mentoring, networking and collaboration can provide in developing and promoting women in leadership. Both the mentor and mentee can benefit from the information presented on traditional, relational, and psychosocial mentoring. In addition, mentors and mentees can learn about various strategies and findings that can help guide their actions and behaviors. Research indicated that the power of networking for women encourages self-advocacy to develop strong networks that can help leverage support for career advancement and professional success. An example of an exemplary mentoring model highlights the success of the Administrative Leadership Academy, to promote women in educational leadership through a collaborative teamwork-oriented approach. This report highlights a successful peer-mentoring model, being developed at The Ohio State University for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career fields. Research is underway at Syracuse University in the Women in Science and Engineering program (WiSE) featuring collaborative teaming, and in another innovative approach to psychosocial mentoring, called CareerWiSE, sponsored by Arizona State University. The research presented provided an understanding of the strategies and processes in mentoring and networking that can help women achieve leadership positions, career advancement, and increased professional commitment to their chosen fields. Mentoring and networking can help women gain understandings of organizational politics, and become reflective, focused leaders in corporate, educational, STEM fields and beyond.
Ch. 7: Women as Leaders
This chapter includes the research on the status of women in leadership positions. While progress was made in the representation of women in leadership roles, they remained grossly underrepresented in high level management positions. The literature also indicated that stereotypical roles, expectations and perceptions continued as barriers for women's advancement in leadership roles. Moreover, research reveals that obstacles such as work life balance, lack of networking opportunities and the paucity of mentoring programs all contributed to female underrepresentation in high-level management.
Worldwide, women continue their fight for gender equality. Women account for nearly 50% of the workforce, yet they are often shut out of executive leadership positions (McKinsey & Company, 2015). Clearly, women qualify for C-suite positions. However, gender bias and stereotypes prevent them from piercing the glass ceiling. Too often women who achieve leadership positions find themselves on the glass cliff. Women are competent visionary relationship builders who embody trust and integrity as components of their leadership. The challenge for Corporate America is to embrace a more holistic approach toward management that encompasses, gender parity, and soft as well as hard business skills.
Ch. 8: Innovative Strategies for Women to Overcome Barriers in Pursuing Leadership Roles in Healthcare Organizations
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is drastically changing the healthcare industry. The PPACA is expanding healthcare mandates to include the investigation into new models of care, reimbursement, patient satisfaction, and healthcare infrastructure. A higher level of resistance exists to healthcare organizational change since the PPACA is politically driven as opposed to being driven by the healthcare industry. A serious problem exists with women achieving leadership roles in the healthcare industry. Even though women hold the majority of positions in healthcare a severe shortage of women leaders exists. Women hold valuable qualities and traits that make them excellent leaders. Some of the traits that give women an advantage over men include, compassion, approachability, transparency, inclusiveness, nurturing, and good communication skills. The healthcare industry creates a unique challenge for women to become leaders. Healthcare organizations would greatly benefit from hiring more women leaders that possess crucial leadership traits. Women’s nurturing ability aids in creating a workplace environment that is fair and just. Bridging the women’s healthcare leadership gap is a dichotomy. First, women must have the internal fortitude to strive to be leaders. Second, healthcare organizations must do all they can to eliminate any obstacle to women becoming leaders. The purpose of this article was to discuss the challenges women encounter in attaining healthcare leadership roles and refractive thinking strategies on how to address these challenges.
Ch. 9: A Story of Voice
The following chapter highlights the importance for female leaders of knowing and continuing to enhance their whole voice through attention to the content, process, and impact of their messages and overall leadership presence. This phenomenon of whole voice was examined in a doctoral study (Maslak, 2008) from the narrative voices of 12 Senior Human Resource leaders, each as members of their respective Senior Management Team. Results from the study indicated that whole voice is a disciplined art form with tremendous value to every leader; one that needs to be trained and practiced for maximum effectiveness. This study was based on previous work of Ms. Kristen Linklater – Freeing the Natural Voice (1976) and Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice (1992), a leading authority on enhancing the actor’s voice and of Dr. Carol Gilligan In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (1982, 1993 revised) who first proposed the creation of the I poem, as a technique for capturing the essence of the individual voice from a person’s narrative, and reflecting it back for insight and enhanced awareness of the power of the individual’s message in that moment.

Ch. 10: The Paradox of Color Coding Leadership: Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys?
Leadership presents a paradox as one tries to explain the evolution of its genesis. The fundamental question is to understand where the leadership story begins to attempt understanding of the application of leadership and of how leadership continues to evolve. When one examines the more than 65 different definitions of leadership, the question of gender emerges. Is there really a color to leadership? Does leadership come in pink for girls and blue for boys? Can society move toward a gender neutral yardstick in which to measure the quality of leadership? While the thought of gender used to bring forth the concept of discrete gender identities, the literature suggests that gender is more of a spectrum beyond the labels and traditional stereotypes of what the titles male and female suggest. The purpose of this discussion was to examine the paradox of the color coding of leadership as culture continues to evolve into a universal definition and application of leadership independent of demographics (gender, ethnicity, national origin, or age) and to suggest that leadership and gender in particular be disconnected from the conversation.