Date of Award

Winter 2-7-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions of lesbian senior leaders and the types of challenges they experience while serving in the Army Branch of the Department of Defense. A secondary purpose of this study was to identify strategies lesbian senior leaders employ to overcome perceived challenges while serving in the Army Branch of the Department of Defense.

Methodology: This phenomenological study described the lived experiences of seven lesbian senior leaders serving in the Army who were retired from service within the past five years. Convenience and snowball sampling were utilized to identify women who met the delimiting criteria for participant in the study. Data collection consisted of in-depth interviews using a scripted interview guide. The interviews were transcribed and reviewed for emergent themes to ensure that the data collected were in alignment with answering the research questions.

Findings: The findings were identified through 11 themes and 178 frequencies among the lived experiences of Lesbian senior leaders in the Army Branch of the Department of Defense. Ten key findings and two unexpected finding were identified based on the frequency of references by study participants.

Conclusions: The ten key findings were summarized into conclusions which included; multiple variations of discrimination through sexual orientation and gender discrimination, living in fear, sexual identity, being “found out”, equality after DADT, pressure to compete with males, lack of support with military and families, looking out for each other, networking and mentorship and covert and over discrimination. Additional conclusions included; discrimination in the Chaplin Corp and lack of demographics for LGBT Soldiers.

Recommendations: Future research should include a study focused on lesbian women in all branches of service, include gay males and transgender soldiers, and utilizing entire female population in all branches of service.