Nicola Smith-Kea, Ph.D. is a 2020 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.
Dr. Nicola Smith-Kea at her Dissertation Defense.
From L-R: Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Chair, Dr. Dorothy M. Schulz, Committee Member, Dr. Lize Booysen, Committee Member
- Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Chair
- Lize Booysen, Ph.D., Committee Member
- Dorothy M. Schulz, Ph.D., Committee Member
The world of women in law enforcement is a thought-provoking one that has received increasing attention both in academia as well as in practice over the past few decades. Even more intriguing, and despite advances in the profession, is the low number of women in executive leadership positions in law enforcement. There is a vast underrepresentation of women in top executive leadership positions across the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the complex journey of women to top executive policing leadership positions. Embracing a positive psychology approach, the study used grounded theory in combination with situational analysis to answer one overarching question: What have been the experiences of women leaders in policing as they have progressed in the profession to executive rank? This allowed for a comprehensive exploration of the micro, or individual level factors, alongside the meso or macro factors, encompassing larger group interactions, social structures, and institutions, that from the women’s perception had been critical in their leadership experiences. The study offers a theoretical model—A Web of Intersections—as a framework for understanding the complex journey of women, and the social processes and multiple intersections they have learned to navigate that can in combination, help them to advance to top executive policing leadership positions. The women in this study are agentic and not simply following the lead. They are active, deliberate, and intentional participants in their own journeys, making critical and strategic decisions that can gain entry to policy decision-making that can result in sustainable change. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, http://aura.antioch.edu/ and OhioLINK ETD Center, https://etd.ohiolink.edu/
Smith-Kea, N. D. (2020). Saving a Seat for a Sister: A Grounded Theory Approach Exploring the Journey of Women Reaching Top Policing Executive Positions. https://aura.antioch.edu/etds/609
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