Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Gary Burns

Second Advisor

Rachael Tilka

Third Advisor

Katrina Merlini

Fourth Advisor

Jessica L. Wildman


The purpose of this study is to examine and develop a scale on the current challenges facing women in leadership while giving special attention to the unique challenges facing women of color in leadership. The current study is the first of a multi-study scale development project for the Perceived Barriers to Women Leaders Scale (PBWLS). This paper aims to bring together literature on gender and ethnic differences in leadership and obstacles for women and women of color in attaining high-level positions in the workforce, and it also seeks to address measurement gaps in the literature. The final sample included 161 participants who were surveyed using a cross-sectional correlational design, and they were asked to report perceived barriers to leadership, along with their emotional exhaustion, career satisfaction, motivation to lead, and career attainment levels. Classical test theory was used to develop and test the PBWLS. The PBWLS demonstrated predictive power for emotional exhaustion and motivation to lead. Black and Latina women were shown to report more barriers on average than White women. Women in the workplace face several barriers when trying to attain leadership positions, and these barriers have negative outcomes, but experiencing these barriers have not deterred their motivation. Recommendations for supporting women in leadership are mentioned, including providing organizational professional development and mentorship programs.


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