Deborah O'Neil, Ph.D.


Deborah O'Neil, Ph.D.

Position: Professor
Phone: (419) 372-5222
Address: 358F Maurer Center

Dr. Deb O'Neil's research is focused on the processes by which individuals and organizations develop. Her fundamental question of interest is: what assists individuals and organizations in being effective, successful, and productive? Her research can be categorized in three specific streams related to the above: career development, leadership development, and organization development.  She also investigates gender dynamics in organizations and is particularly interested in women's career and leadership development.

Currently Dr. O'Neil is working on research studies examining leadership and career development, two of which are described below:

  • The first is a study investigating the facilitators and barriers to women’s career and leadership development.  Our initial findings determined that facilitators were perceived to be predominantly under an individual woman’s control while barriers were perceived to be predominantly controlled by the organizational system.  We presented these preliminary findings as part of a symposium on Challenges & Innovative Initiatives to Advance Women’s Careers at the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID) conference in Florence, Italy in July 2019.  A follow up study is currently in process.
  • The second is a study investigating the process and the impact of individual and organizational change in the Institutions Developing Excellence in Academic Leadership (IDEAL) program.  IDEAL was a three-year project designed to enhance gender equity and inclusion for women and underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Six partner universities participated in the program which was funded by the National Science Foundation.  The goal of IDEAL was institutional transformation to improve systems, structures and practices related to the career advancement of women and underrepresented groups at all levels of faculty and administrative leadership positions.

A teaching highlight of Dr. O’Neil’s has been working with the EMOD (Executive Master of Organization Development) classes in the capstone Mastering Change class (ORGD 6070X). The EMOD classes typically work with local non-profit/community-oriented organizations to help them focus their resources on becoming more effective. The students do a masterful job of providing comprehensive consulting services targeted at each organization’s specific needs. Dr. O’Neil finds it a joy to work with these executive students in service of local and regional organizations.  She was awarded the BGSU Faculty Excellence Award in Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in 2013 for her work with the EMOD Mastering Change class.

Dr. O’Neil also designed and delivered the inaugural international study tour for the EMOD program, Exploring International Organization Development.  Since 2014 the EMOD students have traveled abroad for an intensive, week-long, in-country experience in Nantes and Paris, France and Florence, Venice, and Padua, Italy where they have engaged with graduate students, business professionals, and community organizations.  Dr. O’Neil finds great satisfaction in exposing students to new cultures and ideas.

Dr. O'Neil says she became a professor because, in her words, "I love working with individuals to help them discover their talents, develop their skills and knowledge, and create their ideal lives. I was fortunate to do this kind of work in the corporate world and thought that as an academic I would have the opportunity to interact with a broader cross-section of individuals (students, colleagues, and organization members) as well as conduct research on these developmental processes. Whether I work with executive, graduate, undergraduate students, or members of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, I have the opportunity to assist in the development of others. What could be better than that?" She values mentoring, working with, and connecting to graduate and undergraduate students and alumni.

Besides research, faculty members bring business experience to their classrooms. Prior to returning to school to pursue her doctorate, Dr. O'Neil was a senior consultant with Citibank in New York, working in sales, credit, training, leadership, and organization development, in the Retail, Real Estate, and Business & Professional Banking groups.

Dr. O'Neil has also been an organizational consultant for many years and is a Board Certified Executive Coach (BCC).  Her recent executive coaching and consulting work has focused on leadership and emotional competency development, career development, mentoring programs, and strategic change management. A sample list of organizations with which she has worked includes Alcoa, Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Municipal School District, Developers Diversified Realty, Ernst and Young, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Goldman Sachs, KeyCorp, McKinsey & Company, Roadway Express, and the J. M. Smucker Company.

Dr. O’Neil loves to explore the world and travels extensively.  In the past few years she has visited Australia, Canada, England, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.  Her travels have given her the opportunity to connect with research colleagues around the world, present papers at international conferences, and teach classes and seminars in other universities. She believes that interacting with people across the globe and learning about other cultures and traditions is a great way to experience the wealth of creativity and diversity that exists in the world.


Ph.D., Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University
M.S., Organization Development/Human Resource Development, American University
B.A., Journalism, English, Secondary Education, University of Rhode Island

Academic Positions:

Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2019-present

Associate Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2013-2019
Assistant Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2007-2013
Visiting Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2006-2007
Adjunct Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2005-2006
Senior Lecturer, Case Western Reserve University, 2004-2007


O’Neil, D. A., Brooks, M. E. & Hopkins, M. M. (2018). Women’s roles in women’s career advancement: What do women expect of each other? Career Development International, 23(3), 327-344.
Van Esch, C., Hopkins, M.M., O’Neil, D.A. & Bilimoria, D. (2018). How perceived riskiness influences the selection of women and men as senior leaders. Human Resource Management, 57(4), 915-930.
Hanasono, L. K., Broido, E. M., Yacobucci, M. M., Root, K. V., Peña, S., & O’Neil, D. A. (2018). Secret Service: Revealing Gender Biases in the Visibility and Value of Faculty Service. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Advance online publication, August 2.

O’Neil, D. A., Hopkins, M. M., & Bilimoria, D. (2015). Developing women leaders: An executive coaching framework.  Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 51(2), 253-276.
O’Neil, D.A. & Hopkins, M.M. (2015). The impact of gendered organizational systems on women’s career advancement. Frontiers in Psychology: Organizational Psychology, 6:905. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00905

Hopkins, M.M. & O’Neil, D.A. (2015). Authentic Leadership: Application to women leaders. Frontiers in Psychology: Organizational Psychology,6:959. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00959
Hopkins, M.M., O’Neil, D.A. & Stoller, J.K. (2015.) Distinguishing competencies of effective physician leaders.  Journal of Management Development, 34(5), 566-584.
Hoover, K. F., & O’Neil, D. A. (2015.) Leading by Example: Images of Diversity and Collectives on University Web Pages.  International Leadership Journal, 7(2), 46-66.

Hoover, K.F., O’Neil, D.A. & Poutiatine, M. (2014). Gender and leadership: A frame analysis of university home web page images. Journal of Academic Ethics, 12(1), 15-27.

McFillen, J.M., O’Neil, D.A., Balzer, W.K. & Varney, G.H.  (2013). Organizational Diagnosis: An Evidence-Based Approach. Journal of Change Management, 13(2), 223-246.

O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M., & Bilimoria, D. (2013). Sprinters, Marathoners, and Relay Runners:  Profiles of Women’s Career Development over Time. In R. Burke, S. Vinnicombe, L. Moore & S. Blake Beard (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Promoting Women’s Careers, 87-105. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M., & Bilimoria, D. (2013). Patterns and Paradoxes in Women’s Careers. In W. Patton (Ed.) Conceptualizing Women’s Working Lives: Moving the Boundaries of our Discourse, 63-79. Career Development Series, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Hopkins, M.M. & O'Neil, D.A. (2012). Nurse leaders:  Partners in health care leadership.  In P.C. Spurgeon, C. Cooper & R. Burke (Eds.). The innovation imperative in health care organizations:  Critical role of human resource management in the cost, quality and productivity equation, 137-152. UK:  Edward Elgar Publishing.

O’Neil, D.A. & Case, Susan S. (2012). Reconnections for Life Enhancement:  Daughters after Mother Loss. In A. Deakins, R. Lockridge & H. Sterk (Eds.) Mothers and Daughters:  Complicated Connections Across Cultures, 21-45. University Press of America.

O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M. & Sullivan, S.E. (2011). Do Women’s Networks Help Advance Women’s Careers? Differences in Perceptions of Female Workers and Top Leadership.  Career Development International, 16(7), 733-754.

Casile, M., Hoover, K., & O’Neil, D.A.  (2011). Both-and, not either-or: Service-learning as a tool for moral development and intellectual learning. Education and Training, 53(2/3), 129-139.

O’Neil, D.A. (2011). The value of emotional intelligence for high performance coaching:  A commentary. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 6(3), 329-331.

Hopkins, M.M., O’Neil, D.A., FitzSimons, K., Bailen, P. & Stoller, J.K. (2011). Leadership and Organization Development in Healthcare:  Lessons from the Cleveland Clinic.  In J. Wolf, H. Hanson, M. Moir, L. Friedman & G. Savage (Eds.) Organization Development in Healthcare:  Conversations on Research and Strategies. Advances in Health Care Management, Volume 10, 151-165. Emerald Group Publishing LTD.

Bilimoria, D., O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M., & Murphy, V.  (2010). Gender in the Management Education Classroom: A Collaborative Learning Journey.  Journal of Management Education, 34(6), 848-873.

O’Neil, D. A., Hopkins, M. M., & Bilimoria, D. (2009). Developing Women Athletes: Insights from Business and Management.  Annual Review of High Performance Coaching and Consulting. Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd., 73-96.

O’Neil, D.A. & Sharp, E. (2009). Hit or Miss? Assessing the Fit between Learning Outcomes in OD&C Graduate Programs and Organizational Requirements for OD&C Practitioners. Organization Development Journal, 27(2), 69-83.

Hopkins, M. M., O’Neil, D. A., Passarelli, A. & Bilimoria, D. (2008). Women’s Leadership Development:  Strategic Practices for Women and Organizations. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 60(4), 348-365.

O’Neil, D. A., Hopkins, M. M. & Bilimoria, D. (2008). Women’s Careers at the Start of the 21st Century:  Patterns and Paradoxes. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(4), 727-743.

O’Neil, D.A. (2008). The Importance of Organizational Diagnosis. OD Practitioner, 40, 51-54.