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Fifty years later: Mid‐career women of color against the glass ceiling in communications organizations

Donnalyn Pompper (Department of Strategic Communication, School of Communications & Theatre, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 5 July 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine identity intersectionalities of age, ethnicity, and gender among US professional women of color working in upper management as they challenge the glass ceiling in order to change organizations from the inside out.

Design/methodology/approach

Featured are narratives of 36 midlife‐aged, middle‐class African‐American, Asian‐American, and Hispanic women who have built careers in mediated message industries. Feminism and Foucauldianism provide theoretical underpinning.

Findings

The findings illuminate how midlife‐aged women of color paradoxically resist and accept master narratives of “less than” in striving to change organizations and achieve their maximum potential. Organizational glass ceilings remain impenetrable, but women of color are optimistic that benefits of diverse upper‐level managements ultimately will be embraced. Moreover, overlapping public and private spheres continue to further complicate career advancement.

Research limitations/implications

Method‐inherent limitations include recognizing that narratives are not generalizable but serve as a point of departure for future study. Implications for theory building are offered, as well as ongoing research suggestions – such as probing intra‐group differences and expanding dialog to include other unique identity groups.

Social implications

Of key import for public policy decision making are research participants' voices – how, as beneficiaries of socio‐political movements and legislation spanning nearly five decades, they still seek to negotiate organizational hierarchies and balance public and private work spheres.

Originality/value

Heretofore, little scholarly attention has focused on midlife‐aged women of color and glass ceiling barriers in conjunction with monitoring organizational change. This exploratory study was designed to address the gap; encouraging policymakers and organizational leaders to consider these women's unique identities and experiences.

Keywords

Citation

Pompper, D. (2011), "Fifty years later: Mid‐career women of color against the glass ceiling in communications organizations", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 464-486. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534811111144629

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited