Susan Cloninger, Ph.D., is a 2017 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change in the Graduate School of Leadership and Change at Antioch University

Dr. Susan Cloninger at her Dissertation Defense with her Dissertation Committee Members:

L-R: Dr. Lize Booysen,, Committee Member, Dr. Cloninger, , Dr. Elizabeth Holloway,, Dissertation Chair, Dr. Harriet Schwartz., Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Chair
  • Lize Booysen, DBL., Committee Member
  • Harriet Schwartz, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Susan Adams, Ph.D., External Reader

Document Type


Publication Date



Scholars have identified various reasons for the underrepresentation of women in the upper echelons of organizations.This study used grounded theory methodology enhanced by situational analysis to explore how American women at senior levels in large organizational contexts engage and negotiate the totality of their situation.Utilizing a predominately White, married, middle to upper class, heterosexual sample, this study sought to understand how women create and consign meaning around their experiences; how they experience the fluidity and boundaries of multiple identities; and how they experience the entanglement of macro, meso, and micro societal forces.It explores relationships among factors participants named as influential in experience in leading.Most importantly, this study sought to elevate not just one component as problematic, but to elucidate all interconnecting complexities that are problematic.Five key contexts were identified in the situational analysis as spaces of influence, related to the conditions of the dimensional analysis.Five emergent dimensions were rendered in the dimensional analysis:Growing in Leadership, Solving for Having It All; Stalking the Unknown, Leading in a Glass Box and Negotiating Equality. A grounded theory model was developed of the experience of women who lead, providing an interactive model of how women interpret and engage with the totality of their situation. Four theoretical propositions were extrapolated from the study. The study combined a commanding view of the situation in which women lead, with an interactive theoretical model, mapping places of entry toward resolution of gender leadership parity. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Susan Cloninger, PH.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #

Susan spent the majority of her career in the automotive business, first working with Ford Motor Company and then owning retail dealerships for both Ford and Toyota.Her experiences as a woman in this industry, coupled with her struggles to rear her children, one whom has Asperger’s Syndrome, instilled in her a passion to disentangle the complex situation of women and work in corporate America and pursue her enduring goal of identifying solutions for women to do what they value in a more gender equitable society.Susan lives in North Carolina where she sits on the Business Advisory Board of the Ketner School of Business at Catawba College and nurtures an equestrian farm.

Susan_Cloninger_Professional_SummaryAug2017-7.pdf (295 kB)
Susan Cloninger Professional Summary 8/2017