Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Joyce Gibson, PhD

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Fisher Turesky, PhD

Third Advisor

Dan Jenkins, PhD


women in leadership, COVID-19, discrimination of women, workplace discrimination, bias, gender bias, gender roles, leave of absence, gendered workplace, work hours, work flexibility, Leadership and Organizational Studies


This research explores ways women in their mid-career seeking leadership roles are being affected in the workplace by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is targeted to organizations and leaders committed to gender equity in their workplaces particularly as they are developing new policies in response to COVID-19. Additionally, this research benefits women generally by providing tools for navigating the system and seeking the potential positive outcomes in the workplace. This system includes: work environment, social status, organizational culture, political environment, and policies. This phenomenological study analyzes qualitative data through interviews. It also includes extensive research of peer-reviewed journal articles referencing historical aspects of gender-based biases’ in the workplace, the effects that past pandemics, epidemics and world crises have had on marginalized populations, as well as current studies on how COVID-19 has impacted the workplace.