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Women in leadership : an empirical study of barriers to women’s participation at senior management positions in Nigerian banks

Ademola-Thomas, Abiola Sidikat


Abiola Sidikat Ademola-Thomas



Globally, women have advanced in education, professional certification and skills and have become more visible in the workspace. Women have registered their presence significantly at lower to middle management; however, they have continued to be underrepresented at senior management positions. In Nigeria, there are three top sectors that offer high and competitive welfare packages - Oil and gas, telecommunications, and banking. The banking sector in Nigeria is one of the rapidly growing sectors and women represent over 55% of the employees; women are visibly represented at lower to middle management positions, however, significantly underrepresented at senior management levels. This study examined the contributory factors to women's underrepresentation at senior management positions in the Nigerian banking sector and proposed strategies for advancing women. This study used a semi-structured in-depth interview (n=30), twenty female and ten male managers. The essence of interviewing the male managers was to get a male perspective on the barriers women face in the banks and to supplement the findings from the female participants. Data collected was analysed using the six phase Thematic Analysis model. Consistent with the literature, the findings of this study indicate that family, organisation, and patriarchal society contribute to women's underrepresentation in senior management positions, however, the extent to which women create barriers to themselves (self-imposed barriers) stood out as a critical factor that is understudied. Additionally, this study proposed a tripartite stakeholder strategy to advance women incorporating the role of individuals (women), organisations (banks), and policymakers (CBN, government). This study is an empirical study that examined under-researched gender issues in a developing economy and offers recommendations for women's advancement in the Nigerian banking sector. Since the research scope is limited to the banking sector, findings may not be generalised to other sectors of the economy, hence, a similar study can be replicated in other sectors. Further studies on self-imposed barriers is strongly recommended to extend knowledge in this under researched area. This study established the subjective appraisal and promotion system in the Nigerian banking sector, as well as the inconsistency of the key performance indicators between departments. To expand on these findings, additional research will be helpful. Finally, quantitative research can be used to test the findings across the Nigerian banking sector and produce generalizable results.


Ademola-Thomas, A. S. (2022). Women in leadership : an empirical study of barriers to women’s participation at senior management positions in Nigerian banks. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Dec 1, 2022
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull


Thesis (2.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2022 Ademola-Thomas, Abiola Sidikat. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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