Health Policy and Administration

Open Access
Ahmed, Noorein
Area of Honors:
Health Policy and Administration
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Maureen Connelly Jones, Thesis Supervisor
  • Selena E Ortiz, Honors Advisor
  • Healthcare
  • Women
  • Executives
  • mentoring
  • sponsoring
  • glass ceiling
A majority of the workforce in healthcare organizations are comprised of women. Women are said to occupy 75 percent of entry level and mid-level manager roles. However, when it comes to executive level and senior level positions, women continue to be vastly underrepresented. While more women are receiving advanced degrees and hold many of the frontline positions, there seems to be an invisible barrier or “glass ceiling” preventing women from reaching the upper echelon of their organizations. The main objective of this qualitative case study was to understand the glass ceiling as perceived by women who were successful in achieving executive positions in healthcare. The researcher also sought to understand the role played by mentors and sponsors during their protégé’s careers and the tools and resources they provided to them as they ascended in the ranks. Twenty-one in-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted with a diverse group of women healthcare executives. The conversations captured their lived experiences in the healthcare industry at the broad range of positions. The women opened a conversation surrounding a rarely discussed sponsor who helped them be in the right place to be recognized for their talents. The participants of this study provided valuable insight that will help women leaders, aspiring leaders, organizations, executive leaders, and mentors consider process and policy that takes seriously the need to cultivate more women into high level industry positions. Additionally, the findings of this thesis will not only assist aspiring women leaders learn from the experiences of executives who blazed past the glass ceiling, but will also enable organization leadership and boards gain a deeper understanding of the obstacles faced by women in healthcare.