Thesis (Ph.D)

An exploration of coaching women towards authenticity in the workplace: A heuristic study with women in academia


This study examines three previously unconnected areas: authenticity, coaching and women. Despite the growing interest in coaching, it is still in its infancy in its academic credentials with a paucity of empirical research undertaken to date. In contrast to the extensive research that has been undertaken on the issues that women experience in the workplace, there is little research available that looks specifically at coaching this group. Using heuristic inquiry, nine women collaborated as co-researchers to explore the phenomenon of coaching women towards authenticity within the workplace; specifically within the context of higher education. Data was collected in three cycles during a period of thirteen months and took various forms. Informal conversational interviews lasting between 1.5 and 2 hours were held in each cycle with each co-researcher. Supplementary data such as e-mails and notes from meetings was also provided on a voluntary basis. Using morning pages as a means of journal data was an unusual approach but one that intrigued and absorbed many of the co-researchers. For the more creative, the option was given to consider music, film, art, poetry, metaphor or image that conjured up the essence of their experience. Thematic analysis was undertaken identifying patterns, clusters and categories. In establishing both the group depiction and the creative synthesis (that is essential to heuristic inquiry) a departure was made from the established recommendation where it is suggested that a few co-researchers are selected who typify the group. For this study, all the co-researchers were included in both the group depiction and creative synthesis which comprise two woven tapestries. The main findings from the study are that coaching can provide support and contribute to women’s development of authenticity and that there are three overall areas that can affect and influence women’s authenticity: working in a safe environment, raising one’s profile and having insight. These findings add to the theoretical knowledge of coaching and will inform future academic and practitioner studies into the exploration of coaching women towards authenticity.

Attached files


Worth, S

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Business
Business School


Year: 2012

© Worth, S
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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