Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Her Story: A Qualitative Study of the Journey of the African American Woman Superintendent
by Jones, Jamill Ray, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2013, 265; 3550243
Abstract (Summary)

The superintendency is the most male-dominated position in education (Alston, 2000; Brunner, 2000). Although statistical data reveal the disproportion between males and women in superintendent positions, the data also report a greater discrepancy in the number of African American women who have obtained superintendent positions.

This qualitative study examined how race and gender affect African American women in the role of superintendent. The study was conducted through the use of 14 semistructured interviews with African American women superintendents in Mid-Atlantic states. Critical race theory, Black feminist thought, and tempered radicalism, in conjunction with in-depth, self-in-relationship interviews, were utilized to determine how race and gender impact African American women aspirants to the superintendency and how those factors lead to their appointment to that position.

The findings from this study determined that African American women make meaning of their role and career path to the superintendency in a multitude of ways: preparation, leadership, core principles, relationships, positional strategies, and challenges. The participants revealed that relationships are essential to their leadership. The women regarded relationships with school board members, colleagues, family, spouses, and themselves as the core of their existence. During the interviews, similar words and descriptors were repeated across discussion of various social relationships: supporter, lover, cooperative, organizer, giver, reflective, loving, planner, thinker, reader and critical or guarded. The participants indicated how they implement positional strategies such as assimilation and adaption within various social contexts with regard to their race and gender. The findings of the study emphasized how tenets of critical race theory and black feminism were factors in how the superintendents behave and how other perceive them. Academic achievement and leadership approaches evolved from their experiences, instilled values, and inspiration for efficacy.

The findings from this study document how African American women superintendents make meaning of their role and career path and how their personal and professional qualities affect the way the lead. Through the voices of the women, the story of their journey to the superintendency provides a comprehensive perspective for aspiring superintendents, search consultants, school boards, and educational leadership programs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lemasters, Linda K.
Commitee: Fisher, Patricia, Lohman, Elizabeth, Martin, J. David, Roach, Virginia
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 74/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Womens studies, School administration, Ethnic studies
Keywords: African-American, Black feminist theory, Gender, Qualitative study, Race, Superintendent, Women administrators
Publication Number: 3550243
ISBN: 978-1-267-87230-2
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