Sales, Shannon, Monica Galloway Burke, & Colin Cannonier (2019, October). African American women leadership across contexts: Examining the internal traits and external factors on women leaders’ perceptions of empowerment. Journal of Management History. (ePub in advance of print). (doi: 10.1108/JMH-04-2019-0027) (Link:

Abstract: Purpose – This paper examines women leaders from diverse career backgrounds and ethnicities to discover their perspectives of their leadership roles and empowerment in order to determine similarities and differences among them, focusing on the perspectives of African American women. Design/methodology/approach – The review process began with a comprehensive review of African American women in history in the context of leadership and empowerment. Next, a Q-sort methodology was used as a semi-qualitative approach for women leaders to rank words of empowerment and facilitate discussions among these women. The Q methodology is known for exploring issues that are correlated with individuals who are influenced with personal feelings and opinions. Findings – The paper concludes that perceptions of leadership roles differ among the African American women leaders when compared to other ethnicities. The results support the idea that women from diverse ethnic backgrounds have different experiences in the workplace and these experiences influence how they identify factors they perceive as beneficial to them in terms of their perspectives on leadership and empowerment. Several themes emerged for African American women leaders including being overlooked, marginalized, undervalued, and unappreciated in their professions as leaders due to their dual minority status. As it is now as it was in the past, such barriers can deter or stop progression for African American women leaders. Originality/value – The history of African American women in leadership roles is scantily recognized or not recognized at all. This paper highlights leadership roles and barriers for African American women currently in leadership roles in contrast to other women. The issues they face are still similar to those faced by African American women in earlier decades in spite of increased career mobility. A relatively understudied topic in leadership and management history in general, this paper provides a unique lens from which to build awareness about the leadership roles and empowerment of African American women and to effect needed change.

Monica Galloway Burke <> is in the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY (USA).

Leave a Reply