Breaking through the invisible ceiling to the superintendency for black women in Georgia

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this general qualitative study was to attempt to understand the lived experiences of black female superintendents, an underrepresented group in the school superintendency. I sought to identify the supportive constructs leading to the superintendency, the barriers to overcome in pursuit of the superintendency, and how the black female superintendent experience has changed over time. We employed a purposive sample in the recruitment of study participants. The six participants of this study are retired and practicing black female superintendents in the state of Georgia. Three are retired and served 1984-1999, the period closest to the year of appointment of the first black female; the other three currently practice in GA, and they accepted their appointments during or after 2000. The primary means of data collection for this study was the use of semi-structured interviews. Through the utilization of coding, I was able to categorize then reduce chunks of data into meaningful units as I looked to connect the codes to provide insight or explain the phenomenon of the black female superintendency in GA. Thematic analysis was conducted to generate a set of themes surrounding the superintendents' experiences collected from the in-depth interviews to attempt to answer the research questions of the study. These themes were: (1) What are the lived experiences of black female superintendents in Georgia? (2) What obstacles or barriers do black female superintendents have to overcome? (3) What are the commonalities among experiences of black female superintendents? (4) How have the experiences of black female superintendents changed over time? The six themes identified in the data analysis include chartering new territory, the inner circle, race and gender matters, getting there, evolution of the black female superintendency, and second set of rules. Filtering boundaries and black feminist thought are the lenses, through which, I analyzed and interpreted the vulnerabilities of black women to screening-out processes in pursuit of executive school leadership and to determine if gender, racism, or race-related influences are barriers to the superintendency. Evidence from the study suggested that there are particular barriers that thwart the career advancement of black female educators in Georgia.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Educational administration, Educational leadership