Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Sharon Radd


Organizational Leadership


The number of childfree women in the United States has increased in recent decades, and those women occupy managerial roles at a higher rate than mothers. Childfree women, and women in leadership roles, encounter negative perceptions due to the inconsistency between their identities and the patriarchal views of the roles women should assume. This study examined how childfree women navigated perceptions assigned to them by others in order to gain credibility in their leadership. In qualitative interviews of 13 childfree women leaders, participants described others’ perceptions of them and discussed a variety of strategies they utilized to gain credibility in their leadership. Importantly, they navigated perceptions while also trying to gain credibility by being authentic to themselves. Goffman’s (1973) presentation of self theory served as the theoretical framework used to examine the findings.