Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)




This thesis explores the impact of gender on upward mobility within both nonprofit and for-profit institutions selected from the Minnesota Book of Lists. The emphasis of the study is on women and leadership, and on the factors that influence upward mobility. The study seeks to identify ways in which institutions provide methods to promote upward mobility for women and to discover the ways in which women are limited in their ability to attain leadership positions. The research conducted within this study suggests that there is no adverse connection between gender and the ability to access leadership positions. Instead, the research indicates upward mobility is not limited by gender, but is determined by a person's ability to excel as a leader.

This study specifically explores factors limiting upward mobility such as the environment, the glass ceiling, bias, male-dominated decision-making, and pipeline barriers that inhibit women from attaining executive leadership roles. It also examines propelling factors -- such as mentorship, sponsorship, training, career tracks -- and their impact in propelling women into roles as executives.

The primary and secondary research leads to a series of conclusions and recommendations from the research on gender and upward mobility within institutions. The analysis of the data collected in this study suggests there are methods today that can be used to increase the probability of women becoming leaders within institutions. The content of this thesis challenges some previous assumptions about factors limiting women to upward mobility.


SC 11.MAL.2007.Stadler.J