Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Norman Weston



There is an underrepresentation of African American women in the position of school district superintendent. The purpose of this research was to uncover the barriers and challenges African American women face both as aspiring and sitting superintendents. To gain a lived experience perspective on the problem, five African American women superintendents were interviewed. The primary research question was: How have African American female superintendents attained and successfully held the superintendent position? Using narrative inquiry, interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded for the discovery of common themes. Findings include the value of networking for mentoring and support, accepting and bearing the burden of being “twice as good,” taking calculated risks, and always keeping in mind as an African American female you are not as likely to be afforded a second chance “do-over” as your White peers - you need to get it right the first time. Strategies, practices, and long-term solutions for ameliorating these barriers and challenges are proposed.