What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: V. Method and Research Design

What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: V. Method and Research Design

The Biographical Interview

The aim of the biographical interview is to develop an understanding of the person’s present and future behavior based on life events and opportunities, choices made and coping strategies used. It is most used to understand a person’s life-long struggle with a particular problem. More recently, the biographical interview has been used as a “reflexive project” to dig through the maze of assumptions and prejudices that surround a situation to learn more about the behaviors that have emerged. (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2002) It can also be used to explore the underpinnings of the identity formation in women and the cultural institutions where their identities were formed, including their experiences in high school and college. (Marcia, 1980)

The biographical approach helps us to gain a fuller and richer sense of how a person views and interprets her life course, including how her socially-defined roles change over time. (Denzin, 1989) The tendency to focus only on current workplace situations leaves out factors such as the changing nature of sex-role orientation, the significant life events that foreshadow current choices and the family dynamics that play into behavior. (Bell, et al., 2001) It is difficult to draw conclusions about current thoughts and feelings if not considering the past events and relevant experiences encompassing a women’s life.

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Marcia Reynolds

Marcia ReynoldsIn addition to coaching leaders in global companies, Dr. Marcia Reynolds travels the world speaking and teaching classes in advanced coaching skills, leadership and emotional intelligence. She is the author of 3 books and has been quoted in major online and print publications in the US and Europe.

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