Breaking Barriers and Rising to the Top: An Exploration of the Factors and Strategies that Shape the Emergence of Female Leaders in Norway
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- Master of Science 
Norway is recognized as one of the leading countries in achieving gender parity. Still, women continue to be underrepresented in top leadership positions compared to male peers. Although several theories have been proposed to explain the barriers women face in leadership emergence, recent research claim that a significant portion of the gender imbalance remains unexplained. This study aims to uncover key factors and strategies influencing female leadership emergence by exploring the personal experiences and perspectives of women who have successfully risen to the top. This thesis adopts a qualitative approach and employs semi-structured interviews with seven female top leaders from a large Norwegian corporate group who were purposively recruited to participate in the study. The empirical findings shed light on some of the key factors contributing to leadership emergence for these women. Specifically, the significance of male leader sponsorship, and the impact of luck and chance variations have been identified as significant drivers. Additionally, the study explores essential strategies employed by the participants, particularly choosing a leadership lifestyle by recognizing the value of flexibility and prioritization. This thesis contributes with valuable insight into the attributes, challenges, and strategies of female leaders in a Norwegian context, thereby highlighting the need to alter conventional beliefs and develop new theories regarding gender in top leadership emergence.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Leadership and Organizational Psychology - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2023