Ad8 annotated bibliography

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Use the Attached Template and structure an annotated bibliography APA 7th edition format of the Article attached


250 words


Example Reference Format

Baker, V. L., & Pifer, M. J. (2011). The role of relationships in the transition from doctor to independent scholar. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(1), 5-17. 2010.515569

Provide a reference and an annotation (150-250 words) that includes important details about the article for each of the sources.

Annotations are descriptive and critical assessments of literature that help researchers evaluate texts and determine relevancy in relation to a research project. Ultimately, it is a note-taking tool that fosters critical thinking and helps you evaluate the source material for possible later use. Instead of reading articles and forgetting what you have read, you have a convenient document full of helpful information. An annotated bibliography can help you see the bigger picture of the literature you are reading. It can help you visualize the overall status of the topic, as well as where your unique question might fit into the field of literature. 


A Key Success Factor for African

American Women in the
U.S. Federal Senior Executive Service

Lynda C. Jackson, T rinity W ashington U niversity
Marcia M. Bouchard, U niversity o f M a ry la n d U niversity College

In tro d u c tio n
Between 1991 and 2009, the Government

Accountability Office (GAO) provided numerous
reports on the lack of diversity in the Federal Senior
Executive Service for women and minorities (Stalcup,
2008a; Stalcup, 2008b; Rezendes, 2003). Numerous
reports from the GAO suggest that government-wide
SES appointm ents remain in the low percentages for
African American Women (AAW) when compared to
the percentages of AAW in comparable positions in
the civilian labor force (CLF) (Rezendes, 2003; Stalcup,
2005; Stalcup, 2008a; Stalcup, 2008b). One of the
reports stated, “Racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in
the SES corps is im portant because they are the people
who run the governm ents programs, and diversity
in the senior leadership is an im portant component
for effective operation of the governm ent” (Rezendes,
2003, p. 1).

Further, according to GAO, of the total 6,555 SES
appointees, 232 or 3.5 percent are AAW (Stalcup,
2008a). AAW’s representation in the CLF, as
reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in the
management, professional, and related occupations
is 6.1 percent (U.S. D epartm ent of Labor, 2007).
This disparity, suggests that a representation rate of

3.5 percent constitutes a valid underrepresentation
of AAW in the SES. Despite many studies and
government reports, GAO asserted that progress has
been slow for increasing m inority representation
at both the SES level and in the GS-15 and GS-14
developmental pool (Stalcup, 2008a).

Concern for the lack of m inority representation
has gained the attention of senior leaders in both
public and private organizations. It has become a
top agenda item with leading executives recognizing
the essentiality of diversity in developing and
m aintaining high quality and inclusive workforces in
the government’s Office of Personnel and Management
(OPM) (Marquis, Lim, Scott, Harrell, & Kavanagh,
2008; OPM Strategic Plan, 2002; Stalcup, 2008a). In
2003, President George W. Bush recognized the merits
of a Supreme C ourt decision that highlighted the
benefits of diversity, noting that “diversity is one of
Americas greatest strengths” (Bush, 2003).

Problem S ta te m e n t
The lack of sufficient representation of women and

minorities in the SES impedes its ability to reflect
the diversity of the people it serves (Zeller, 2003).
In support of this goal, the Civilian Federal Register

SAM A d vanced M an ag e m e n t ^Journal – Volum e 84 Edition 4 35

(CFR) prescribes that executive agencies create
program s and recruit to reduce underrepresentation
of minorities in the Federal service ranks (5 CFR,

P u rp o s e o f t h e S tu d y
The purpose o f this study is to analyze views

held by AAW in the SES and those serving in the
GS-15 and GS-14 developmental pool of federal
governm ent employees. We posit that this analysis
will provide insights into factors that AAW perceived
were empowering and related to their career success.
Previous studies have explored career progression
challenges women may face in public and private
workforces, yet few scholarly studies solely examined
perceptions o f AAW in the federal SES and the
developmental pool. Experts in the research of women
in m anagem ent issues observe that past studies have
focused on all minorities, all women, or women of
color (Catalyst, 1998; Bell & Nkomo, 2001). This
study may serve to fill the gap in scholarly studies, as
it focused specifically on AAW s perceptions of the
success factors that enabled or would enable them to
achieve SES-level careers.

B a c k g r o u n d o n S e n io r E x e c u tiv e S e rv ic e
The SES, a corps of appointed leaders, was created

by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 to provide
direction for the federal workforce. SES members serve
in civilian ranks above GS-15 and below presidential
appointees (Office of Personnel Management, n.d.).

F ig u re 1. SES Core Q u a lific a tio n s fo r A p p o in te e s

As shown in Figure 1, SES members have distinctive
skills and meet strict core qualifications, including
“leading change, leading people, results driven,
business acumen, and building coalitions” (Davis,
2008). Members in the SES are selected for their
leadership skills gained in public or private positions,
including career civil service, military, and corporate
experiences. SES salary scales range from $114,468 to
$172,200 (SES salary table, 2008).

SES Oversight Agency
The U.S. Office of Personnel M anagement (OPM)

maintains oversight of SES personnel programs,
including the initiative that developed the SES core
qualifications outlined in Figure 1. In perform ing
its administrative role, OPM has had a long-term
focus on the value of diversity and seeks to increase
representation of women and minorities at all
levels (Office of Personnel Management, 2002).
Yet, according to a 2008 GAO report, the federal
government is not meeting the challenges o f increasing
m inority representation in its workforce (Stalcup,
2008a). OPM recognizes that the SES is not a diverse
workforce and that progress toward diversity is slow
(Zeller, 2003).

SES Diversity Legislation
Members of Congress support OPM ’s focus on

diversity. In 2007 the House of Representatives
and the Senate introduced two SES diversity bills.
This legislation called for statutes to boost diversity


Source: Diagram adapted from Guide to Senior Executive Service Core Qualifications (2006)

SAM Advanced Management ]ournal – Volume 84 Edition 4

policies and increase OPM s supervision of the SES
(H. 3774; S. 2148,). Also, because it was not obvious
that agencies were consistently docum enting SES
diversity statistics, the bills recom m ended that OPM
create an SES resource office. This office would manage
docum entation of SES applicants and track annual data
on race and other demographics related to the SES.

To break the stride of current trends, OPM included
diversity policies in its strategic plan and supported
the notion that agencies must improve diversity
efforts in at least three ways. First, OPM ’s strategy
called for expanding recruitm ent of underrepresented
groups (Office of Personnel Management, 2002).
U nderrepresented groups include women, minorities,
and people with disabilities. Next, OPM sought to
improve tracking of dem ographic data within each
agency for women and minorities (Office of Personnel
Management, 2002). Possessing an overall goal of
increasing diversity, gathering and reporting data on
demographics would provide the only visible means
for m easuring success.

S c o p e o f t h e S tu d y a n d R e s e arc h
Q u e s tio n

The scope of the present study focused on African
American women in the SES, GS-15, and GS-14 ranks.
After discovering the wide gap in research studies on
AAW’s perceptions of success in the workplace (Bell 8c
Nkomo, 2001; Catalyst, 2004), this study concentrated
on investigating AAW’s perceptions of the importance
of key success factors necessary to reach SES level
positions. Further, this study was bound by gender,
race, organization and federal ranks, as it focused on
AAW serving in the SES and in developmental grades.
The research question guiding this study is: W hat
are the key success factors necessary to leverage a
successful career in the executive ranks?

L it e r a t u r e R e v ie w
A critical review of the literature established the

foundation for this study which sought to explore the
success factor among other factors as perceived by
AAW serving in the SES, GS-15, and GS-14 ranks.
The literature suggests that mentors can serve to
boost career potential for individuals seeking career
success (Ragins, 1989; Catalyst, 1998; Catalyst, 1999).
Although this factor may be salient to all career-
oriented individuals, it may be most critical for women
and minorities who aspire to reach executive-level

Obstacles and Challenges to AAW Career Success
The U.S. Government recognized the challenges

that leaders may face in managing a diverse workforce.
Three governm ent-sponsored reports that addressed
workforce diversity and inclusion challenges were:
Workforce 2000 (Johnson 8c Packer, 1987; Dominguez,
1991), the Federal Glass Ceiling Initiative (Federal
Glass Ceiling Commission, 1995) and Workforce
2020 (Richard 8c D’Amico, 1997). This triad of
reports provided a foundation for legitimizing the
diversity and inclusion challenges faced by women
and minorities in the workforce, particularly in their
achievement of senior managem ent positions.

The seminal study, Workforce 2000 (Johnson 8c
Packer, 1987), set the groundwork for convincing
organizations to place more focus on diversity
management as a result of changing workforce
demographics. Commissioned by the Departm ent
of Labor (DoL) and conducted by the Hudson
Institute, this study predicted that the future U.S.
workforce would be increasingly populated with more
women and minorities (Johnson 8c Packer, 1987). In
addition, the authors predicted that the workforce
would no longer depend prim arily on white males
in m anufacturing jobs. Perhaps the most significant
concepts introduced in this docum ent were “skills gap”
and “workplace diversity” (D’Amico, 1997). Workforce
2000 authors also predicted that organizations would
need to increase skills by reducing obstacles that
prevent diversity and inclusion (Dominguez, 1991).
Whereas Workforce 2000 emphasized America’s
transitional workforce demographics, the DoL’s Glass
Ceiling Commission focused on exploring the career
progression potential for women and minorities.
The concept glass ceiling’ refers to “invisible, yet
real or perceived barriers which appear to impede
advancement opportunities for minorities and women”
(Dominguez, 1991, p. 16). Although women and
minorities have passed the hurdles to gaining initial
employment, researchers found that many have
reached the “glass ceiling” plateau just below mid-
and senior-management levels (Nkomo 8c Cox, 1989;
Dominguez, 1991; Cox 1993; Bell 8c Nkomo, 2001).

As a follow-up to Workforce 2000 (Johnson 8c
Packer, 1987), Workforce 2020 (Richard 8c D’Amico,
1997) was also sponsored by the DoL and published by
the H udson Institute. Similar to the earlier report, this
predictive docum ent continued the examination of our
nation’s future workforce. Workforce 2020 contributes

SAM Advanced Management Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4 37

to the proposed study by providing empirical evidence
for the need to prepare for, strategically manage, and
embrace diversity rather than “ward off the forces
of change” (p. 148). Identification of career success
factors can help minorities and women take a measure
of responsibility for personal career advancement and
find access to success factors that may lead toward
increasing their num bers in organizations’ senior
executive levels.

These DoL sponsored studies not only legitimized
“invisible” barriers, but also set forth initiatives to
eliminate them. This study was a logical follow-
on to the DoL reports as it may add to the body of
knowledge in understanding AAW’s viewpoints of
key success factors that may play a role in helping this
group break through the “invisible” barriers.

W hereas much of the literature lacks data on AAW,
Lynda Hite, professor of organizational leadership
and supervision at Purdue University, focused her
1996 study on AAW managers and their perceptions
of career progression factors, by employing a
qualitative methodology. Published in the Women
in M anagement Review journal, the study involved
ethnographic interviews and focus groups with 12
participants ranging in age from their late twenties
to their early sixties (Hite, 1996). The resulting
data were outlined in three categories: family and
personal perspectives on life; attitudes about society,
work, and racism; and the unique position of being
underrepresented in managem ent (Hite, 1996).

Although Hite’s (1996) research findings offered no
solid conclusions, im portant implications revealed
that AAW perceived that they faced a different set of
barriers than white women. Hite concluded that this
phenom enon required further research to increase
understanding of AAW’s managem ent experiences
(Hite). Hite’s analysis inferred that, although AAW
faced some of the same gender barriers as white
women, some AAW also perceived race obstacles

A nother study, conducted by Nkom o and Cox
(1989), com pared the differences between senior
m anagem ent opportunities for African American men
(AAM) and AAW. The purpose of the study was to
determ ine if AAW managers experienced a “double
w ham m y or double advantage” (p. 825) in being
African American and female. Testing two hypotheses,
the researchers predicted that AAW would attain
senior positions at higher rates or lower rates than

Nkomo and Cox (1989) conducted a pilot study
with 50 white and African American managers
employed in the banking industry. The study employed
questionnaires to gather prim ary study data from
283 participants (165 men and 118 women); all were
members of the National Black MBA Association
(Nkomo & Cox). The researchers found no significant
differences between prom otion rates, m anagement
levels, and num ber of prom otions for AAM and AAW.
Another significant finding indicated that predictors
for career progress were not the same for AAM and
AAW managers (Nkomo & Cox). AAW perceived
that having mentors was m ost influential while AAM
were more concerned with achieving rapid career

Researchers who have studied AAW emphasize
that few research studies have focused solely on
AAW managers; rather, analysis of this group is often
combined with managers who are AAM, all women, or
women of color (Tsui & Gutek, 1984; Cox & Nkomo,
1986; Nkomo & Cox, 1989; Catalyst, 2004). A study
conducted by Catalyst, a respected women’s research
firm, indicates that designated groups for “women of
color” include not only AAW, but also Latinas, and
Asian women (Catalyst, 1998). Although AAW are
part of the “women of color” group, Catalyst reports
that these women may indeed face a different set of
challenges because of their distinctive U.S. history
(Catalyst, 2004). In the past, AAW have faced issues
related to ancestral slavery, legal segregation, and race

Researchers have noted that the “glass ceiling”
concept denoting obstacles to career advancement
is often considered the “concrete ceiling” for AAW
(Catalyst, 2004; Bell & Nkomo, 2001). Belle & Nkomo
(2001) refer to this phenom ena as a “concrete wall” and
contend it is “m ore persistent and m ore pernicious” (p.
140) than the “glass ceiling.” That is, the top jobs are
more difficult for AAW to obtain as they often have
no awareness of-and cannot “see” upward mobility
opportunities. A Catalyst report argued that the
inability to “see” advancement opportunities amounts
to a “concrete ceiling” that is opaque, versus a “glass
ceiling” that would allow one to see but not achieve
opportunities (Catalyst, 2004).

Mentoring as a Key Success Factor
Mentors play a key role in facilitating career

progression to senior managem ent positions
(Ragins,1989; Ragins & Cotton, 1991; Ragins,1996;

38 SAM A dvanced M a n a g e m e n t Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4

Giscombe and Sims,1998; Blake-Beard, 2001). Along
with providing evidence of the value of m entoring for
career advancement, the literature also suggests that
women com m only face barriers to accessing effective
m entor relationships (Ragins, 1989; Ragins & Cotton,
1991; Ragins, 1996; Giscombe 8c Sims, 1998; Blake-
Beard, 2001).

M entoring is considered a key aspect for facilitating
prom otion to senior managem ent positions. Yet,
a myriad of studies reveal that some women face
barriers to experiencing m entoring relationships
(Ragins, 1989; Ragins 8c Cotton, 1991; Akande, 1994;
Ragins, 1996; Giscombe 8c Sims, 1998; Blake-Beard,
2001). McGlowan-Fellows and Claudewell Thomas
(2004) conducted a review of m entoring experiences
of women of color. McGlowan-Fellows, a professor at
Notre Dame de N am ur University and winner of the
2004 Circle of Scholars Award for “seminal research in
womens issues and cultural competence in corporate
America” (McGlowan-Fellows 8c Thomas, 2004, p.
3), collaborated on a study with Claudewell Thomas,
professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences
at the University of California at Los Angeles. Their
study found that m entoring may influence individuals’
capability to reach senior levels in organizations
(McGlowan-Fellows 8c Thomas, 2004).

Also, McGlowan-Fellows and Thomas surfaced
evidence that m entoring could serve as a conduit for
gaining authority and power, and “few black women
are offered opportunities to be m entored” (McGlowan-
Fellows 8c Thomas, 2004, p.3). Further, they found that
opportunities for advancement in the workplace could
be acutely influenced by race. The authors suggested
that m entoring could increase racial and gender
diversity because m entoring relationships often offer
insights for career progression (McGlowan-Fellows
8c Thomas, 2004). They concluded that there was
also a strong relationship between firms’ competitive
advantage and gender diversity (McGlowan-Fellows
8c Thomas). Additionally, many studies found
evidence of the value of m entoring as a career success
factor (Ragins, 1989; Ragins 8c Cotton, 1991; Ragins,
1996; Giscombe 8c Sims, 1998; Blake-Beard, 2001,
McGlowan-Fellows 8c Thomas).

Additional proponents for the value of m entoring
were Harvard professors David A. Thomas and John
H. Gabarro. In their book, Breaking Through: The
Making of M inority Executives in Corporate America,
the authors presented the results of a longitudinal,
three-year study focused on m inority career tracks in

three major U.S. corporations (Thomas 8c Gabarro,
1999). The purpose of this seminal study was to
examine differences between m entoring minorities
and m entoring whites by analyzing participants’ career
trajectories. Thomas and Gabarro (1999) investigated
complexities associated with m entoring minorities
and “boosting minorities’ careers through the glass
ceiling” (p. 99). The study revealed that high potential
white managers saw early career successes while
m inority managers experienced career progress much
later. Furtherm ore, m inority participants with the
highest potential possessed m entor relationships and
corporate sponsors who cultivated the protege’s career
development (Thomas 8c Gabarro, 1999).

Another key finding indicated that successful
m inority executives had experienced the advantage
of close relationships with mentors who helped them
build a sense of pride and capability (Thomas 8c
Gabarro, 1999). Based on case studies, the researchers
suggested that m inority managers whose careers
peaked at the management level had received basic
m entoring to help develop their skills. O n the other
hand, minorities who reached the executive levels
had experienced closer bonds with their mentors
who helped them build “confidence, credibility, and
competence” (p. 104). The Thomas and Gabarro
study suggested that mentors m ust also focus on
helping their proteges build a network of sponsors and
associations in the senior ranks of the organization
(Thomas 8c Gabarro, 1999).

Much of the evidence in the literature validates
that m entoring is a significant success factor for all,
but even more so for AAW as they have historically
suffered a deficit in receiving equal and fair treatm ent
in the workplace. Successful m entoring relationships
may likely lead to successful career development for
the mentee. In the H andbook of M entoring at Work:
Theory, research, and practice, pivotal m entoring
researchers, Belle Rose Ragins and Kathy E. Kram
assert that although m entoring is im portant and may
enhance careers, it may also be a difficult concept to
fully understand. They are convinced that m entoring
relationships work, but we may not yet recognize
exactly what makes them work (Ragins & Kram, 2009).

Ragins and Kram provide a valuable sum m ary
of m entoring research, yet they argue that there are
two deficits in the literature on mentoring. First,
a gap exists where m ost m entoring research delves
into investigations related to the perspectives and
development of the mentee versus perspectives of the

SAM A d vanced M an ag e m e n t Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4 43

mentor. Second, they acknowledge that “too often the
effectiveness of m entoring for people of color has been
based on w hether there is assimilation to the dom inant
white/male model.” (Ragins & Kram, 2007). Not only is
this a poor measure of effectiveness for people of color,
it is even less of a measure for, and may be particularly
irrelevant to, AAW. This discussion confirms
that m ore research m ust be accomplished to truly
determ ine effectiveness of m entoring relationships
for AAW and couple it with and exploration of the
measures that can be taken to access to this key success
factor that may leverage executive level careers.

The current study reveals evidence that AAW
women are underrepresented in the SES (Stalcup,
2008a; U.S. D epartm ent of Labor 2007) and argues
that m entoring is a key success factor for AAW who
aspire to achieve SES appointments. A related study
conducted by Johnson-Drake (2010) also suggests that
m entoring relationships for AAW SES women are “an
essential com ponent for African American women
at the SES level in the federal government.” Johnson-
Drake’s qualitative exploration employed interviews
and focus groups to exam m entoring experiences from
AAW s points of view.

Johnson-Drake collected data from nine AAW
participants who were employed in the SES ranks in
the federal government (2010). Data analysis suggests
participants believed mentors were valuable to their
journey toward becoming an SES. Further, the women
perceived that access to a mentor, early in one’s career,
was imperative to gain awareness for navigating the
labyrinth of milestones toward becoming an SES.
Although this study certainly contributes to the body
o f knowledge on AAW’s perceptions of mentoring
relationships, the lack of the researcher’s access to a
larger num ber of participants may be considered a
m ajor lim itation of this study. Future research with
a larger pool of respondents would provide a more
effective view and analysis of the perceptions of AAW
in the SES corps.

A phenomenological study by Saturday Aisuan
(2011) also suggests that an area of concern for African
American women aspiring to reach executive level
positions is m entoring and networking. Aisuan’s
study informs that AAW seeking high level leadership
careers may benefit by understanding, among
other areas, barriers, mentoring, and networking in
organizations (2011). The value of this qualitative
study lies in succinctly providing results of surveys
and interviews of 20 AAW who were serving in

senior positions in the Los Angeles City government.
Participants (30%) believed that it was im portant to
have the “ability to network and obtain m entors” in the
workplace (Aisuan, 2011, p. 160). AAW also perceived
that mentors were needed for support and as role

Interestingly, the participants in Aisuan’s study
appeared to have similar perspectives, as the
participants in this current study. Data, in both
cases, suggest that among others, internal factors
such as education, training, and hard work were key
factors to reaching executive level careers. Yet, the
study provides no evidence of participants’ rating
these success factors in order of importance. Rating
the priority of factors may provide insight on how
the leaders may knowledgeably m entor the next
generation of aspiring AAW.

Another study led by Drexel University Professor
Rajashi Ghosh presents the argum ent that
developmental networks may be considered as
valuable “holding environm ents” that may leverage
development and provide workplace support
for emerging leaders. M aintaining a network of
“developers” or mentors, “may offer varying degrees
of career support, psychosocial support, and role
modeling” (Ghosh, Haynes, & Kram, 2013, p. 241).
Further, they posit that developmental networks are
beneficial to new leaders, as they offer an opportunity
to experience trial and error leadership experiences
while consistently being assured by developers o f their
value to the organization.

In this case, high potential leaders would be
afforded a safety net as their developers help them
understand and surm ount workplace leadership
challenges. The study also places special emphasis
on the holding environments by prescribing that
mentors be highly experienced, have “shared goals”
with the developing leader, and have the capacity to
build “high-quality relationships” (Ghosh et al. 2013,
p. 243). This seminal work informs that leaders may
have a greater opportunity for career success when
organizations recognize the value of employing in-
house developmental networks as a safe space while
future leaders learn to navigate the complications of
tough organizational leadership responsibilities.

Salient research informs that m entoring not only has
the potential to provide career growth for the mentee,
but it also provides considerable value to organizations
when their own knowledgeable executives, who are
already on board, can contribute to the development

44 SAM A d vanced M a n a g e m e n t Journal – Volum e 84 Edition 4

of mentees. In their seminal work on the virtues of
“peer coaching,” Parker, Kram, and Hall (2014) suggest
that organizations may gain immense value from
helping to build and support m entoring relationships.
Citing the difficulties of finding work-ready new
employees, they contend that a training squad already
exists within the organizations and workshops on
coaching may be the key to a less expensive way to
help new leaders in the organization become highly
qualified (Parker, Kram & Hall, 2014). The authors
provide a detailed outline for peer coaching programs
that can be developed by organizations. They argue
that the focus m ust be on organizational support
and environments of trust among coaches and peers.
Further, the researchers prescribe a three-step process
which includes: 1) Building the relationship; 2)
Creating success; and 3) Internalizing the skills. These
processes are necessary to lay a foundation for building
“self-awareness, develop critical skills, sharpen
relational skills, energize partners to the relationship,
and create a desire for more connection” (Parker et
al., 2014, p. 123). Although there is more work to do,
this study provides a solid framework for introducing
organizational m entoring programs that may add
valuable relationships to the overall work environment.

To address the gap in literature related specifically
to African American women’s perceptions and
experiences, researchers Lim, Clark, Ross, and Wells
(2015) examined mentoring to determ ine if this
success factor may serve to increase diversity for AAW
accountants. They explored AAW’s perceived benefits
from m entoring experiences, types of mentoring,
and the im pact of mentors on job positions. The
researchers conducted online surveys of African
American accountants who were m embers of the
National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).
Participants included 226 women and 124 men who
were working accountants and that had experienced a
m entoring relationship in an organization (Lim, Clark,
Ross & Wells, 2015).

Study results suggested that AAW were not as likely
to obtain beneficial mentors as compared to African
American men (AAM). In fact, the findings indicated
that AAW had a lower num ber of mentors than
AAM. However, AAW perceived the same as or even
greater support from m entoring than AAM. They also
found that gender was not related to the level of their
jobs. As well, individuals having a larger num ber of
m entoring experiences appeared to also gain beneficial
career enhancement. Overall, this affirms that although

m entoring is a key factor in helping individuals reach
career goals, AAW were less likely to gain access to
career building m entoring relationships.

Few studies focus on m entoring for African
American women (Catalyst, 1998; Bell & Nkomo,
2001). A recent study expressed a goal, in part, “to
provide insight to the barriers African American
women experience during the career advancement
process…” (Williams-Stokes, 2017, p. 142). The
researcher posits that organizations benefit from
m entoring women in ways that will develop their
potential to advance. Yet, in many government
organizations AAW are underrepresented, and are
often placed in less than 1% of the upper echelon
positions (Williams-Stokes, 2017). The study explored
AAW’s perceptions of the value of m entoring support
by examining the responses of fifteen AAW.

Study results focused on four major themes
including 1) relationship building, 2) supervisors’
roles, 3) barriers and 4) work ethic. Results also
suggest that m entoring opportunities may be less
available to AAW, thus providing them with fewer
developmental work environments. William-Stokes’
(2017) placed more focus on the barriers to reach the
top, whereas the current study examined perceptions
of the value of m entoring in their trek to SES level
positions. Although, both focus areas have potential
to inform, recognizing that m entoring opportunities
may be key success factors, may be more effective than
focusing on the barriers.

R e s e a rc h M e t h o d ’s a n d M e a s u re s
The mentors’ measure was defined for participants

as experienced individuals who develop a relationship
with less skilled or less experienced individuals with
a focus on helping the lesser-skilled person develop
career-related competencies (Catalyst, 1998). Effective
mentors may coach, train, provide advice, and facilitate
sponsorship for protegees in the workplace.

Based on the literature review, the following
hypothesis is proposed:

Hypothesis: The more emphasis the mentee
placed on the im portance of the m entor/
mentee relationship, the more the mentee
perceived career enhancing outcomes.

A 6-item perceptions-of-mentors scale was
developed by the first author to measure the level of
im portance participants placed on mentors as success
factors. Two of the six items were adapted from
Ragins and Cotton’s (1991) perceived barriers scale

SAM A d vanced M a n a g e m e n t Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4 45

Figure 2. M entor Measures

M -l. Mentors are important for African American women who want to gain SES
M-2. African American women need mentors to make it to the SES level.
M-3. Mentors enhance career progression for protegees’ who seek to achieve SES status.
M-4. Mentors are willing to develop a relationship with me.
M-5. I have had opportunities to develop effective relationships with mentors.
M-6. Providing mentorship to other African American women is important to me.

(‘M entors are willing to develop a relationship with
me’) and (‘I have had opportunities to develop effective
relationships with mentors’). The scale was measured
with a 5-point Likert-like scale, (1 = strongly disagree:
to 5 = strongly agree), and the coefficient alpha was
.838. (See Figure 2, M entoring Survey Measures).

M entoring refers to a relationship between an
experienced individual and one with less skill or
experience with a focus on helping the lesser skilled
person develop career-related competencies. This
person may or may not be the individual’s supervisor.
Among other benefits, mentors coach, train, advise,
and facilitate sponsorship for protegees. Further, the
participants were told, “W ith this explanation in mind,
please rate your agreement with each of the following

Reliability o f Measures
The reliability of each measure was examined using

Cronbach’s alpha internal consistency coefficient. An
item analysis procedure was conducted in order to
deduce w hether any inappropriate items needed to
be excluded for further analyses. Ensuring reliability
helped determ ine if the items were good measures
and if the scales were providing accurate measures of
the study variables. Two items were removed from the
perception-of-m entors scale because they significantly
lowered the alpha value of the scale. After deleting
these items, the alpha value of the scale increased from
.711 to .838. The new reliability obtained was deemed
acceptable based on the requirem ents set forth by
Nunnally (1978)

The 188 participants responded to an on-line survey

instrum ent. The participants were AAW, holding
developmental positions (GS-14 & GS-15) within the
Federal Government, and senior m anagement (SES)


positions serving as mentors (see Table 1). As shown
in Table 1, SES women rated the m easured success
factors as follows: emotional intelligence received
a mean rating of4.31 (SD = .468), mentors received
a mean rating of 4.28 (SD = .587) and organization
diversity practices received a mean rating of 4.04 (SD
= .626). SES rated role models received a mean rating
of 3.94 (SD = .916) and informal networks received a
mean of 3.74 (SD=.851).

In addition to the descriptive data, frequencies
tests for SES ratings revealed the percentages of SES
women’s positive ratings for key success factors. SES
ratings of success factors favorably at 4 (agree) or 5
(strongly agree) were as follows: El (85.7%), mentors
(77.1%), organization diversity practices (57.1%), role
models (68.6%) and informal networks (45.7).

As shown in Table 2, GS-15s rated the measured
success factors as follows: mentors received a mean
rating of 4.53 (SD = .547), emotional intelligence
received a mean rating of 4.49 (SD = .485), models
received a mean rating o f 4.07 (SD = .935), informal
networks received a mean rating of 4.04 (SD = .804)
and organizational diversity practices received a mean
of 3.98 (SD-.622).

Frequency statistics were also reviewed for GS-
15s to determ ine the percentages of GS-15s that
provided positive ratings of the key success factors.
Percentages of GS-15s rating the measured success
factors favorably with ratings of 4 (agree) or 5 (strongly
agree) were as follows: mentors (88.2%), El (83.7%),
role models (69.8%), informal networks (61.6%) and
organization diversity practices (51.2%).

Table 3 presents descriptive statistics for GS-14
ratings of the measured success factors. This table
includes num ber of participants, mean ratings, and
standard deviations. Table 3 indicates that GS-14s rated
the measured success factors as follows: emotional
intelligence received a mean rating of 4.38(SD = .563,

SAM A d vanced M a n a g e m e n t ^Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4

T a b le 1 . D e s c r ip t iv e S t a t is t ic s f o r SES S u c e s s F a c t o r R a t in g s

Descriptive Statistics

N Mean Std. Deviation
SES_EI_PERCEPT 35 4.3119 .46895

SES_MENTORS 35 4.2833 .58759

SES DIV PRACT 35 4.0456 .62652

SES_ROLEMODELS 35 3.9429 .91639

SES_NETWORKS 35 3.7476 .85165

Valid N (listwise) 35

T a b le 2 . D e s c r ip t iv e S t a t is t ic s f o r G S -1 5 S u c c e s s F a c t o r R a t in g s

Descriptive Statistics

N Mean Std. Deviation
GS15MENTOR 85 4.5353 .54711

G S 15E IP E R C E P T 86 4.4961 .48539

GS15ROLEMODELS 86 4.0756 .93503

GS15NETWORKS 86 4.0469 .80403
GS15DIV_PRACT 86 3.9816 .62286

Valid N (listwise) 85

T a b le 3. D e s c r ip t iv e S t a t is t ic s f o r G S – 1 4 S u c c e s s F a c t o r R a t in g s

Descriptive Statistics

N Mean Std. Deviation
GS14EI_PERCEPT 68 4.3860 .56389

GS14MENTORS 68 4.3566 .81304

GS14ROLEMODELS 68 4.2672 .68576
GS14DIV_PRACTICE 68 4.0854 .63006

GS14NETWORKS 68 4.0137 .79668

Valid N (listwise) 68

N = 68); mentors received a mean rating of 4.35 (S D =
.813) and role models received a mean rating of 4.26
(SD = .685). GS-14s rated m easured success factors
as follows: organization diversity practices received
a mean of 4.08 (SD = .630) and informal networks
received a mean of 4.01 (SD=.796).

As shown in Table 3, frequencies were reviewed to
determ ine if GS-14s favorably rated the key success
factors. This test displayed the percentage of GS-14s
that provided scores of 4 (agree) or 5 (strongly agree)
delineating the perception of im portance of each

success factor. This groups rated the m easured success
factor ratings as follows: mentors (85.3%), El (83.8%),
role models (75.0%), informal networks (60.3) and
organization diversity practices (54.4%).

After analyzing descriptive and frequency data,
a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) between
subjects (SES, GS-15 and GS-14) was employed to
compare the mean accuracy of perceptions o f key
success factors. As shown in Table 4, an ANOVA test
helped us determ ine whether the differences in the
means between and within the three groups were

SAM Advanced Managem ent Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4 47

Table 4. One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for Success Factor Ratings

Sum o f
Sauares df Mean Square F Siq.

MENTORS Betw een G roups 2.421 2 1.210 3.431 .034

W ithin G roups 64.906 184 .353

Total 67.326 186

N ETW O RKS Betw een G roups 1.586 2 .793 1.150 .319

W ithin G roups 127.589 185 .690

Total 129.175 187

ROLE MODELS Betw een G roups 2.519 2 1.259 1.828 .164

W ithin G roups 127.444 185 .689

Total 129.963 187

El PERCEPTION Betw een G roups .639 2 .319 1.061 .348

W ithin G roups 55.675 185 .301

Total 56.314 187

DIVERSITY PRACTICES Betw een G roups .551 2 .276 .686 .505

W ithin G roups 74.258 185 .401

Total 74.809 187

Table 5. Scheffe Tests for Key Success Factors
Multiple Com parisons

S c h e ffe

V a ria b le m G R A D E (J1 G R A D E

M e an
D iffe re n c e (I-

J) S td . E rro r S id .
A A W M e n to rs S E S G S -1 5 -.0 3 4 4 0 .1 1 9 6 0 .9 5 9

G S -1 4 .1 9 3 11 .1 2 4 2 0 .301

G S -1 5 S E S .0 3 4 4 0 .1 1 9 6 0 .9 5 9

G S -1 4 .2 2 7 5 0 .0 9 7 2 9 .0 6 8

G S -1 4 S E S -.1 9 3 1 1 .1 2 4 2 0 .301

G S -1 5 -.2 2 7 5 0 .0 9 7 2 9 .0 6 8

AAW N E T W O R K S S E S G S -1 5 -.2 9 9 2 8 .1 6 2 2 5 .1 8 5

G S -1 4 -.2 5 1 3 9 .1 6 8 7 7 .3 3 2

G S -1 5 S E S .2 9 9 2 8 .1 6 2 2 5 .1 8 5

G S -1 4 .0 4 7 8 9 .1 3 1 8 7 .9 3 6

G S -1 4 S E S .2 5 1 3 9 .1 6 8 7 7 .3 3 2

G S -1 5 -.0 4 7 8 9 .1 3 1 8 7 .9 3 6

A A W R O L E M O D E L S S E S G S -1 5 .0 9 7 1 8 .1 6 3 2 3 .8 3 8

G S -1 4 -.1 6 5 4 6 .1 6 9 8 0 .6 2 3

G S -1 5 S E S – .0 9 7 1 8 .1 6 3 2 3 .8 3 8

G S -1 4 – .2 6 2 6 3 .1 3 2 6 6 .1 4 4

G S -1 4 S E S .1 6 5 4 6 .1 6 9 8 0 .6 2 3

G S -1 5 .2 6 2 6 3 .1 3 2 6 6 .1 4 4

AAW EI P E R C E P T S E S G S -1 5 -.1 8 4 2 2 .1 0 2 5 8 .2 0 2

G S -1 4 -.0 6 4 9 6 .1 0 6 7 0 .831

G S -1 5 S E S .1 8 4 2 2 .1 0 2 5 8 .2 0 2

G S -1 4 .1 1 9 2 6 .0 8 3 3 7 .361

G S -1 4 S E S .0 6 4 9 6 .1 0 6 7 0 .831

G S -1 5 -.1 1 9 2 6 .0 8 3 3 7 .361

A A W D IV E R S E P R A C S E S G S -1 5 .0 6 4 0 5 .1 2 5 8 4 .8 7 9

G S -1 4 -.0 4 2 6 7 .1 3 0 9 0 .9 4 8

G S -1 5 S E S – .0 6 4 0 5 .1 2 5 8 4 .8 7 9

G S -1 4 -.1 0 6 7 2 .1 0 2 2 8 .581

G S -1 4 S E S .0 4 2 6 7 .1 3 0 9 0 .9 4 8

G S -1 5 .1 0 6 7 2 .1 0 2 2 8 .581

48 SAM Advanced Management Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4

As shown in Table 5, we provide comparisons of the

mean accuracy of the success factor scores between
groups (SES, GS-15, and GS-14). This test found that
participants’ perceptions of mentors differed across the
three groups, F(2,l 84) = 3.431, p <.05. Table 5 also
shows the Scheffe follow-up procedure which provides
an assessment of pairwise differences among the three
groups. However, Post Hoc comparisons revealed
no statistically significant differences at the p < .05
level between the three groups’ perceptions. That is,
although there appeared to be a difference in the three
groups’ mean ratings of mentors, this test verified that
the differences were not statistically significant.

We also sought to learn how AAW in the SES, GS-
15, and GS-14 rate the im portance of the measured
key success factors: mentors, informal networks, role
models, em otional intelligence, and organization
diversity practices. Resulting analysis shows the
following ranges of means for the m easured success
factors: SES women’s mean ratings ranged from 3.7
( S D = .851) to 4.31 (S D = .468); GS-15 women’s mean
ratings ranged from 3.98 ( S D = .622) to 4.53 ( S D =
.547); and GS-14s mean ratings ranged from 4.01
( S D = .796) to 4.38 ( S D = .563). Participants’ ratings
indicated perceptions that key success factors were
im portant for career advancement to the SES level.

I n t e r n a l V e rs u s E x t e r n a l Success F a c to r
A n a ly s is

To leverage understanding of perception of key
success factors, a final survey question was posed to
respondents in all grades: Select the top three factors
that have contributed the m ost to your overall career
success. The following analysis is based on responses to
this survey item.

Ten success factor choices were listed in the survey
which included an option to select none of these. No
participant selected the none of these option, therefore,
that response was not considered in conducting this
analysis. The success factor options were as follows: 1)
mentors, 2) hard work, 3) informal networks, 4) your
own ability, 5) role models, 6) being in the right place
at the right time, 7) organization diversity practices, 8)
em otional intelligence (El), 9) education and training
and, 10) None of these.

A frequency chart was created to observe the
num ber of times each factor was selected as one of the
top three choices. Table 6 provides the data by grade
and frequencies of selections of each success factor.

As shown in Table 6, participants (N = 188) selected
hard work (82.4%) most often as one of their top three
success factors. The second and third most frequent
selections were education and training (60.6%) and
your own ability (43.0%). Percentages do not equal
100% because each participant was asked to provide
three responses.

As shown in Table 6 the data were also analyzed to
tell us the top three success factors selected by grade.
Percentages were calculated based on the total num ber
of participants in each grade. SES (N = 32) ratings are
as follows: hard work (93.7%), education and training
(56.2%), and your own ability (46.8%). GS-15s (N =
86) ratings are as follows: hard work (75%), education
and training (62.5%), and your own ability (42%).
And GS-14s (N = 70) ratings are as follows: hard work
(84.2%), education and training (58.5%), and mentors

It is im portant to note that in this instance,
participants provided lower ratings for key success
factors evidenced in the literature as essential needs to
support successful career progress. SES women rated
the key success factors as follows: informal networks
(28.1%), mentors (25%), El (12.5%), organization
diversity practices (9.3%) and role models (6.2%).
GS-15 women rated the key success factors as follows:
mentors (38.6%), informal networks (21.5%), El
(13.6%), organization diversity practices (10.2%),
and role models (7.9%). And GS-14 women rated
the key success factors as follows: mentors (42.8%),
networks (20%), El (11.4%), organization diversity
practices (5.7%) and role models (5.7%). The results
of this analysis suggest that, as a group, and by-grade,
the largest percentage of study participants rated
hard work (internal factor) as the most im portant
success factor, followed by education and training and
one’s own ability. The percent of participants giving a
higher rating to the key success factors from the list of
options was lower for all groups except GS-14s who
rated mentors (42.8%) as one of their top three success
factors (see Table 6).

As shown in Table 7, multiple comparisons (Scheffe
test) helped us discover a statistically significant
difference between mean scores of SES and GS-15
women’s ratings and between SES and GS-14 women
ratings. Effort accounted for personal success with p <
.05. However, with the other attribution factors, no two
groups were significantly different at the .05 level.

A t t r ib u t io n T h e o r y a n d Success F a c to rs

SAM A d vanced M a n a g e m e n t Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4 49

Table 6. Top Three Success Factors and Percentages Selected by Grade

N= 188

(N = 188)

N = 32

N = 86

N = 70

Mentors 25.0% 38.6% 42.8% 72 (38.3%)

Hard Work 93.7% 75.0% 84.2% 155 (82.4%)

Informal Networks 28.1% 21.5% 20.0% 42 (22.3%)

Own Ability 46.8% 42.0% 41.4% 81 (43.0%)

Role Models 6.2%) 7.9% 5.7% 13(6.9%)

Right Place/Right 40.6%)

18.1% 20.0% 43 (22.9%)

Diversity Practices 9.3% 10.2% 5.7% 16(8.5%)


12.5% 13.6% 11.4% 24 (12.8%)

Education & Training 56.2% 62.5% 58.5% 114 (60.6%)

Table 7. Scheffe Tests for Attribution Factors
M u lt ip le C o m p a r i s o n s

S c h e ffe

9 5 % C o n f id e n c e Inte rv a l

D e p e n d e n t V a ria b le m G R A D E G R A D E

M e an
D iffe r e n c e (I-

j ) S td . E rro r S ia . L o w e r B o u n d U p p e r B o u n d
AT-1 A b ilitie s S E S G S -1 5 -.0 4 0 .1 0 3 .9 2 9 -.2 9 .22

G S -1 4 -.0 6 7 .10 8 .82 6 -.3 3 .20
G S -1 5 S E S .04 0 .1 0 3 .9 2 9 -.2 2 .29

G S -1 4 -.0 2 7 .0 8 4 .9 5 0 -.2 4 .18
G S -1 4 S E S .0 6 7 .1 0 8 .82 6 -.2 0 .33

G S -1 5 .0 2 7 .0 8 4 .95 0 -.1 8 .24
A T -2 E ffo rt S E S G S -1 5 -1 .0 2 4 * .2 3 8 .0 0 0 -1 .61 -.4 4

G S -1 4 -1 .1 4 4 * .2 4 8 .00 0 -1 .7 6 -.5 3
G S -1 5 S E S 1.0 2 4 * .2 3 8 .0 0 0 .44 1.61

G S -1 4 -.1 2 0 .19 4 .8 2 7 -.6 0 .36
G S -1 4 S E S 1 .1 44* .24 8 .0 0 0 .53 1 .7 6

G S -1 5 .1 2 0 .19 4 .8 2 7 -.3 6 .60
A T -3 T a s k S E S G S -1 5 .1 9 8 .2 0 0 .61 2 -.2 9 .69

G S -1 4 -.1 2 7 .2 0 8 .83 0 -.6 4 .39
G S -1 5 S E S -.1 9 8 .20 0 .6 1 2 -.6 9 .29

G S -1 4 -.3 2 6 1 6 4 .141 -.7 3 .08
G S -1 4 S E S .12 7 .2 0 8 .83 0 -.3 9 .64

G S -1 5 .3 2 6 .16 4 .141 -.0 8 .73
A T -4 L u c k S E S G S -1 5 .0 6 2 .24 8 .9 6 9 -.5 5 .67

G S -1 4 .1 3 6 .2 5 7 .8 6 9 -.5 0 .77
G S -1 5 S E S -.0 6 2 .24 8 .96 9 -.6 7 .55

G S -1 4 .0 7 4 .2 0 2 .9 3 4 -.4 2 .57
G S -1 4 S E S -.1 3 6 .2 5 7 .86 9 -.7 7 .50

G S -1 5 -.0 7 4 .20 2 .9 3 4 -.5 7 .42

*. T h e m e a n d iffe re n c e is s ig n if ic a n t a t th e 0 .0 5 le v e l.

50 SAM Advanced Management Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4

Attribution theory was also considered when
analyzing selections of the top three success factors.
The survey asked questions that were related to how
participants attribute personal achievement. The
factors were divided into internal and external, based
on characteristics. For example, the factor of mentors
was considered external because it has an external
dim ension (the mentor). On the other hand, education
is an internal factor (the individual person). External
factors in the survey items included: mentors,
informal networks, role models, and organization
diversity practices. While, internal factors listed
included: your own hard work, your own ability,
emotional awareness (intelligence), and education and

To further examine attribution for the internal and
external groups, each group was transform ed into one
variable. Statistics resulting from these transform ed
variables indicated that 184 (96.8%) of 190 participants
selected internal success factors among their choices
of the top three success factors. For comparison, only
66.3% of respondents rated external success factors
among their list of top three factors. Overall, this
analysis suggests that SES rated internal success factors
higher indicating their perceptions that these factors
were more likely to lead to career success.

D is c u s s io n
The hypothesis predicted: The more emphasis the

mentee placed on the im portance of the m entor/
mentee relationship, the more the mentee perceived
career enhancing outcomes.

However, the findings suggest that while supporting
the im portance of mentors (extrinsic factor) was
recognized by mentees, more emphasis was placed
on intrinsic factors of hard work, education, and
emotional intelligence.

Results o f the study suggest that AAW in the three
grades studied, considered m entoring as an im portant
success factor for achieving SES . SES ratings of agree
or strongly agree for the im portance of mentors were
slightly lower than GS-15’s and GS-14’s agree and
strongly agree ratings. These results are consistent
with Nkomo and Cox’s (1989) findings contending
that AAW perceived mentors as influential factors for
career advancement. Also, results of the present study
are in line with research conducted by McGlowan-
Fellow and Thomas (2004), as their findings suggested
that m entoring influenced individual capabilities to
achieve senior-level positions. Further, their study

found that mentors may help increase diversity in
organizations because they may offer insight for career
advancement when counseling m inority proteges
(McGlowan-Fellow & Thomas, 2004). A nother related
study found that while networks were most effective
for white women, m entoring program s were more
effective in supporting career development for AAW
(Kalev, Dobbin, & Kelly, 2006)

A possible reason for SESs placing less im portance
on mentors may be related to hindsight bias. Hindsight
bias is present when participants’ recollections of
the past become distorted either because they are
uncertain of how they felt in the past, or because they
discount negative or positive circumstances depending
on the situation (Werth, Strack & Forster, 2002).
Max Bazerman, a Harvard professor and renowned
expert on decision making, and his colleagues, also
contributed to understanding this bias. Bazerman,
Loewenstein, and Moore (2002) argued that
individuals may be unconscious of their tendency to
distort facts and supported the salience of recognizing
the possibility of bias (Bazerman, et. al., 2002). In
recognizing the potential for this bias, researchers
gain an increased awareness of issues that may be
involved when evaluating results based on participants’
perceptions of past events.

SES perceptions were m easured based on after-
the-fact thought processes, and although they were
asked to “think back to the time before you achieved
your SES appointment,” a potential exists for past
events to be seen through a different lens when
reporting perceptions. Hindsight bias may account
for mentors and other success factors appearing to be
less im portant to senior executives because they had
already reached the SES level, and memories o f the
success factors’ significance may have faded over the

Interestingly, the analysis discovered no major
differences between the three grades’ views of the
im portance of m entoring as a success factor. One
explanation for this finding may be the high visibility
of m entoring as a concept in the federal government,
particularly in term s of preparing women and
minorities for advanced careers. In September 2008,
the U.S. Office of Personnel M anagement (OPM)
published a m entoring handbook (OPM, 2008). The
handbook cited the Federal Workforce Flexibility
Act of 2004 that m andated provisions for training
managers on m entoring employees (OPM, 2008). As
a result OPM pushed for agencies to develop formal

SAM A d vanced M an ag e m e n t Journal – Volume 84 Edition 4 51

m entoring programs and published guidance on
all aspects of mentoring. Moreover, a recent study
of AAW in the Peoria, Illinois, Black Cham ber of
Commerce concluded that m entoring related to career
success (Ali, 2007). The results of the present study
substantiate evidence presented in the literature that
points to m entors as a key success factor for achieving
senior executive positions.

Study results suggest that when participants were
given an opportunity to select the top three factors to
which they credited personal career success, they were
more likely to select factors in the following order:
hard work, education and training, and ones own
ability. Selecting these factors, versus the key success
factors, was a turning point in this investigation
of perceived success factors. In fact, these findings
suggest that AAW, in this study, when not limited
to prioritizing key success factors evidenced by the
literature, were more likely to credit internal versus
external factors for personal career success.

External factors including mentors, consistently
received fewer selections among participants’ top
three success factors. These results may be informative
for organizations that wish to maintain a diverse
workforce and may provide insight for how they may
appeal to AAW by recognizing their perceptions
of the im portance of internal factors. This may be
accomplished by recognizing and rewarding hard work
and efforts and by awarding scholarships or tuition
assistance for advanced education. Coupled with
these enticements, organizations may also implement
inclusion policies to reduce perceptions of obstacles to
external factors such as mentors.

The present study’s results also surface viewpoints
related to attribution theory. Based on attribution
theory, the results suggest that among all three grades,
AAW attributed internal factors at a higher rate
than external factors as the foundation for personal
achievement and career progress. W hen analyzing
attributions by grade, study results suggest that SESs
were more likely to place confidence in external factors
than were GS-15s or GS-14s. In contrast to women in
the SES, the GS-15s and GS-14s were more likely to
credit internal factors as the basis for their own career

These results suggest that after prom otion to SES,
women may have a better understanding of the
value that external success factors may contribute
to achieving SES ranking. Also, SESs may have
experienced situations that prom inently presented

the im portance of accessing external factors. On the
other hand, GS-15s and GS-14s are less experienced
and may not have developed a full awareness of the
powerful influence that external factors may have on
facilitating prom otions to SES. Organizations may use
this analysis to build career development programs
that focus on im portant internal and external factors
for individuals who aspire to achieve executive level

Im p lic a t io n s f o r E m p lo y e e s
AAW who aspire to achieve SES ranking should take

measures to increase awareness o f the combination of
success factors that may support achieving executive
careers. The current study suggested that mentors,
networks, role models, organization diversity, and
emotional intelligence were key success factors that
helped advance careers. Although there is still much to
be learned about key success factors needed to reach
SES ranking, the present study implies that AAW
should place more emphasis on devising m ethods to
gain access to im portant external factors. Increasing
AAW’s potential to reach the SES may be a m atter of
placing more personal focus on strategies for gaining
access to mentors, informal networks, and role models.

Additionally, AAW who are currently serving
in executive-level positions could participate in
m entoring activities to aid high-potential AAWs who
aspire to reach the SES. They should consider the
value of sharing strategies and approaches that worked
for them in achieving SES ranking. AAW may also
consider proactively building their own networks and
m entor programs to expose SES hopefuls to career
advancement advice and opportunities. Also, the
current corps of AAW in the SES can create forums
that will allow them to provide counseling and share
knowledge of the factors needed to achieve SES. This
recom m endation would enable AAW who are SES to
provide support and become role models for other
AAW who aspire to gain SES appointments.

Further, implications of the present study may
also increase AAW employees’ knowledge of key and
essential success factors that may be needed to achieve
SES. The present study’s results may offer self-help
solutions for AAW in guiding them toward success
factors that are most im portant for achieving executive
careers. Enhanced awareness of key success factors
may also increase AAW’s potential for achieving SES
and, in turn, increase their representation in the SES corps.
Im p lic a t io n s f o r M a n a g e m e n t

SAM A d vanced M a n a g e m e n t Journal – Volum e 84 Edition 452

Organizations may benefit from the results of the
current study by increasing their preparedness to
effectively address concerns related to career success
factors for AAW. The findings may contribute to
developing program s that can lead to increased
opportunities for AAW to gain access to key success
factors. Further, understanding perceptions held
by AAW in SES, GS-15 and GS-14 grades may also
motivate organizations to expand on this study by
examining perceptions of success factors for all
minorities in all grades.

R e c o m m e n d a tio n s
Armed with knowledge gained from the present

study, it is recom m ended that organizations consider
implementing policies that support expanding AAW’s
access to mentors, networks, and role models. Also,
leaders can institute organizational agendas that
include developing or improving formal mentoring
and networking programs.

To implement m entoring programs, organizations
can formally couple senior executives with AAW
subordinates. The effectiveness of these couplings
can be enhanced by providing training support in
career-counseling techniques and protegee career
development. Organizations can also implement
formal in-house network programs and encourage
AAW to participate. Through formal networks,
organizations can provide a num ber of relationship­
building opportunities for AAW that may include
presentations from senior leadership and professional
development training. Also, organizations can conduct
interactive meetings and forums to bring together
AAW and senior leaders to discuss challenges in
AAWs’ careers and m ethods to improve career success.
By establishing formal m entoring and networking
programs, organizations can create associations that
may lead to informal m entoring relationships and
network connections.

Another recom m endation for organizations involves
leaders m aintaining awareness of the effectiveness
of organization diversity programs. One way to
accomplish this is by conducting periodic diversity
climate assessment surveys of all employees. Climate
assessment surveys are effective for informing leaders
of employee perceptions of an organization’s diversity
policies and programs. This review can also indicate
the level of effectiveness of specific programs that were
instituted to enhance inclusion and diversity. Periodic
assessments should be followed with leadership’s

visible com m itm ent to address negative issues that may
surface, the com m itm ent to address and strengthen
weak programs, and continuance of support for
effective diversity practices.

Additionally, based on knowledge gained from
the current study, we recom m end that organization
diversity programs be visibly supported by leadership.
Working from a foundation of knowledge of AAW’s
perceptions, organizations can use this information
to determ ine which career development programs
are most effective in showing the organization’s solid
support of inclusion and diversity. Leaders should
ask themselves, “W hat was the purpose of this
diversity program? Is it working? Are we meeting our
diversity goals? W hat should be the next steps for our

Finally, organizations com m itted to prom oting
diversity may enhance effectiveness by reviewing
the best m entoring program and practices employed
in other successful organizations. Benchmarking
organizations who have implemented successful
diversity practices can help organizations improve
current policies and institute new diversity practices.

S u m m a r y a n d C o n c lu s io n s
We have learned from this study that AAW who

participated in this study appeared to be aware of the
im portant success factors needed to achieve SES. Yet,
when given a broad range of factors to choose from,
more often the women selected internal factors as the
basis for their own personal success. Because so few
studies focus on AAW’s views of SES success factors,
the present study can serve as a baseline for future
studies that explore AAW’s perceptions of success
factors necessary to reach SES levels.

Additionally, this study informed us that mentors
are an im portant success factor that may facilitate
career success. However, this im portant factor was
not among the m ost prevalent factors that study
participants perceived as the top three responsible for
their own career success. In fact, participants provided
the highest rate of internal related responses including
education and training, hard work, and personal
efforts. Through this study we learned that participants
believed internal factors underpinned their success
and it may be necessary to enhance awareness for
the im portance of attaining powerful external factors
in order to gain leadership positions and to reach
executive-level positions.

While recognizing the im portance of aspiring

SAM Advanced M anagement Dournal – Volume 84 Edition 4 53

leaders’ em otional intelligence, advanced schooling,
diligent work efforts, and talents in the workplace, it
should also be understood that individuals who lack
these characteristics may not meet even the lowest
qualifications for senior-level leadership positions.
We learned from this study that it may be equally
im portant to identify and understand the role played
by m entors as a powerful key success factor.

F u tu re Research
Although this study expands the body of knowledge

regarding AAW’s perceptions o f success factors,
it has not succeeded in identifying all factors that
may be involved in explaining why so few AAW
are in the SES. Many aspects involving this area of

research remain unknown. For this reason, future
research is very im portant to continue expanding
our knowledge of success factors that may lead to
higher representation of AAW in the SES. Aspects to
consider during future research include examination
of SES workforce diversity policies, investigation of
the extent to which AAW aspire to become SES, and
exploration of SES organizations’ career development
and hiring practices. These researchers hope that a
model for future research can be developed to serve
as a useful guide for fruitful efforts that will continue
filling the gap in the inadequate body of knowledge on
AAW’s perceptions of success factors needed to gain
appointm ents in the SES.

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