Date of Award

Spring 5-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Yinying Wang, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Dionne Cowan, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Sheryl Moss, Ph.D.


Abstract: The public school superintendency has historically been held by White males. Given the disproportionate representation of Black women in the position, this study explored their lived experiences, including the intersectionality of race and gender, to further understand the problem. Hermeneutical phenomenology was used to understand and interpret the essence of the lived experiences of the six participants. Data were gleaned from semi-structured interviews and analyzed using Moustakas’ (1994) modification of Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Phenomenological Data Analysis. The findings revealed barriers and challenges Black women encounter throughout life and while serving in the position such as overcoming racial and gender discrimination in childhood and the workplace. The findings also revealed their motivation to lead and the impact of their lived experiences on their leadership. Patterns of success such as improving student outcomes, longevity in the position, and positively impacting climate were also found. Strategies for success such as relying on their faith and family arose as sources of strength. I also propose a new leadership theory to describe the characteristics Black women superintendents possess and how they respond when faced with discrimination.

This study contributes to the research depicting the lived experiences of Black women superintendents in the Southeast. Practical implications such as mentorship, a leadership pipeline, and diversity of school board members are recommended. Policy implications such as required training for new superintendents and board members are also suggested. The results of this study will benefit Black women aspiring to the superintendency and those serving in positions of support for Black women superintendents.


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