Seven questions for Fielding alum and award-winning author, Lynn Schmidt, PhD. Dr. Schmidt earned her doctorate in human and organizational systems from Fielding Graduate University.
What brought you to Fielding?
When I decided to pursue a PhD I explored various doctoral programs. I already had a bachelors and masters and my thinking was, if I pursue one more degree I want to be able to focus on what interests me. The human and organizational systems program is top notch and Fielding’s flexibility in how you design your degree program and dissertation work allows for you to focus on your areas of interest. I also knew I might be moving while I was working on my PhD and Fielding allows for that.
How did you grow/change at Fielding?
I learned so much while at Fielding. My knowledge of human and organizational systems grew tremendously. My dissertation focused on women and career derailment and I learned a great deal about women’s issues. I grew as a researcher, a writer, and an author.
What did you learn here that you might not have learned elsewhere?
What I learned at Fielding is priceless. Fielding allows you to focus on what interests you and to create your own study guide. You have to be a self-starter and be able to hold yourself accountable to complete your course work and your dissertation. I learned so much about myself in this program, not only the curricula. Fielding allows you to explore many types of research approaches, both qualitative and quantitative. I went with a qualitative interview design which allowed me to learn many skills I’m still applying today as an author of five books.
What would you say is your greatest passion? (Alternately: What drives you?)
My passion is focusing on giving voice to women and women’s issues. So often research is conducted by asking others, usually male, tell why you think this happened to women? I go directly to the women and say “tell me your perspective.” Giving voice to those who are marginalized is so important.
What was your dissertation on? (Not the title but how you would explain it to, say, your aunt or your neighbor)
My dissertation identified the factors that women perceived contributed to their career derailment. I gave women voice to tell me what they believed happened to them to get fired, forced out, or asked to resign from a senior-level leadership position. Most vendors who sell leadership development programs say it’s the women’s leadership skills. I found that it’s a systemic issue with four contributing factors: society, organizations, other people’s perceptions, and the individual.
Where has your degree led you? What has it given you?
My PhD had provided me with life-long skills that none of my other degree’s did. Because of my PhD I now have very strong research and writing skills. These skills have enabled me to successfully write and publish five books and become an award-winning author. My two recent books, Shift Into Thrive and Thriving from A to Z are the result of some of my research and work on my dissertation.
How is Fielding different than other universities you know of?
Fielding is so flexible in how you are allowed to create your curricula and determine your focus for your dissertation. You have to be self-driven to be able to make the most of the flexibility, but the rewards are tremendous!