Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Hans Klar, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Natasha N. Croom

Committee Member

Robin J. Phelps-Ward

Committee Member

Nafees M. Khan


This study was focused on understanding how Black women currently serving as secondary school principals were able to obtain their positions and what supports they received and barriers they encountered during their transition from teacher to principal. The underlying purpose behind this study was to understand how racist and/or sexist practices within the educational system influenced their experiences in becoming some of the few Black women currently serving as secondary school principals. In this study, I drew upon Black feminist thought as my epistemological perspective and critical race feminism as my theoretical framework to understand this phenomenon. To investigate this topic I conducted semi-structured interviews with six Black women high school principals. All of the study participants were from one state in the southeastern region of the United States. After the data was transcribed and coded, three primary themes emerged that represented supports to their transition experiences and one theme that was a barrier to their transition process. In the final two chapters, I present the findings from my data analysis and provide a detailed discussion of those findings. The three supports that emerged from the data analysis were Black women being hardworking, being chosen, and being mentored or having someone to serve as an advocate for them. The barrier they had to overcome that I identified was the stereotype of the angry Black woman. The fourth theme was the necessity of Black women to stay focused on their professional goal of being school principal in lieu of circumstances outside of their control. The final chapter is a discussion of findings centered on the practices or mindsets that reflected racism, sexism or both in the promotion process for the Black women. I also provide implications for practice and recommendations for further research, which includes expanding the study population and geographic range. The recommendations also included the study of Black women teachers who aspire to the principalship, current and former Black women secondary assistant principals, and Black women who previously served as high school principals in future studies.



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