Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Laura Hallberg

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Rachelle Rodgers-Ard


There are many African American women in leadership positions such as Assistant Superintendents, Network Superintendents, Directors, Principals, Assistant Principals, and Coaches. There is a disconnect for African American women in leadership and the highest position of authority in a school district. This leads to the question, what are the barriers, if any, that are limiting the amount of African American Women in the far western states to transition into Superintendent positions? In the reverse, what supports did the women who are superintendents have in their leadership ascension? Finally, what structures need to be developed and formalized in order to facilitate the transition of African American Women into Superintendent positions? This research engages with six the current African American Women superintendents to obtain their stories and develop structures that school districts that are interested can use to develop supports that will directly support African American Women who are interested in obtaining the Superintendent positions in far western states schoolsThe purpose of this study is to identify systemic barriers to the superintendency for African American women and identify strategies to disrupt these systems. The findings of this study may be used to increase the number of female African-American superintendents in the region. The following research questions were used to guide this study:

1. What systemic barriers hinder African American women from becoming superintendents in public school districts?

2. What strategies do African American women superintendents use to overcome these barriers?

3. In what ways, if any, do African American women superintendents perceive the influence of race and gender on their path to the superintendency?

4. What systemic reforms are needed to increase the diversity of superintendents in the western United States?

This study is significant because it explains how African American Women in the far western states have experienced the journey into the superintendency, both good and bad. This research can serve as support for other African American Women who are interested in the journey/position. School districts that are looking to dismantle and recreate systems that are supportive of African American Women and their desire to become superintendents can use this research to create said programs. More important, it will add the voices of underrepresented participants to the body of scholarship.

This study is a basic qualitative study student with underpinnings of Patricia Hill Collings Black Feminist Thought, which explains that Black women are the most adequate source to explain their journey and offer solutions to the representation shortage. The research data was collected through two one on one (virtual) interviews.





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