Despite ongoing hiring in the commercial nuclear industry in the United States, African American women continue to face fewer opportunities for advancement to leadership positions than white men and women in the industry. There is a lack of empirical research in terms of African American women’s views on advancing to leadership positions. This deficiency indicates the need for additional research into the ways in which African American women are afforded leadership opportunities. The theoretic foundations of Adams' equity theory, intersectionality, and Black feminist thought and theory are used to examine the experiences of nine African American women who have experience being the "first" or "only" to hold their positions in the commercial U.S. nuclear power industry. African American women's perceptions of leadership opportunities in the commercial U.S. nuclear power industry were investigated through qualitative research. I utilized a phenomenological research design and triangulated data from analysis and interviews to validate the data collected from nine participants. The research questions are intended to elicit information regarding the lived experiences of these women to reveal the underlying phenomena. The nine participants responded to semi-structured interview questions. The study revealed that respondents perceived poor leadership behaviors, poor talent development models, and weak diversity initiatives as impediments to upward mobility and attainment of leadership positions within their organization. Recommendations for enhancing the upward mobility of African American women focus on organizations developing and implementing fair policies and practices that foster inclusive work environments and restructuring talent development models to eliminate racial and gender biases. The results concluded that there are significant connections between all three theories and the observed behaviors. The findings of this study can be utilized by all organizations to acknowledge the experiences of African American women and develop strategies to increase their upward mobility within the organization. This research has implications for practitioners desiring a more inclusive leadership development program, for organizations seeking to understand how their practices intentionally or unintentionally affect African American women in the workplace, and for African American women seeking assistance in making sense of their experiences.
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