Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nakeina E. Douglas, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Saltanat Liebert, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Patricia H. Grant, Ph.D.


The tenets of representative bureaucracy suggest that the composition of the bureaucracy should mirror the people it serves including women in order to influence the name, scope, and implementation of public policies. Women are still underrepresented in mid-to-upper management in male-dominated occupations. When women are under-represented in mid-to-upper levels of management in government, there are implications regarding representative bureaucracy.

This study examined the career progression experiences of women who were successful in reaching mid-to-upper levels of management in male-dominated occupations in state government. Specifically, the study explored how women perceive various occupational factors including their rates of participation, experiences, gender, roles within the bureaucracy, interactions with their coworkers, leaders and organizational policies, personal influence, and decision-making abilities.

The findings revealed that women experience various barriers to career progression in male-dominated occupations, but find mechanisms to navigate obstacles imposed by the negative consequences of tokenism. The findings indicate that although women have been successful in reaching mid-to-upper level management in male-dominated occupations, they do so in institutions, regional, district, field or offices with fewer overall employees where they have less opportunity to have influence on overall agency-wide policy decisions. The decision-making power is limited to implementation strategies of agency-wide policies within their smaller domains or geographical area of responsibility.


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