Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Charol Shakeshaft


The purpose of this study was designed to gain an understanding of how young African American women principals experience the principalship. Three research questions were explored in this study: (a.) What are the pathways to the principalship for young African American women? (b.) How do African American women experience the principalship? (c.) What are the barriers that young African American women experience and what are their strategies for success? The researcher examined the day-to-day experiences faced by these women as they related to race, gender, and age challenges within the field of education. Using qualitative research with Black Feminist Standpoint theory as the theoretical framework, the study allowed these young female principals from Virginia to share their personal stories and struggles related to their experiences as principals. They participated in depth one-on-one, semistructured interviews and, as a follow-up, some participated in focus groups that contained open-ended questions. The findings indicated that these women rely on God, faith and family in their day-to-day work. Some of the women discussed the challenges that they face dealing with ageism, sexism and racism in the work place. Probing the reflections and experiences of these women will inform both research and practice, given their professional rise to principalship positions and their experiences once they attained the positions. It was crucial to add the voices of these women to existing literature because they bring a unique perspective to the practice of school leadership. Implications for this research include: college-bound students interested in school administration; university professors and school divisions interested in ways to support and provide professional development to these young leaders; feminist researchers; those interested in studying leadership theory and research, and aspiring and practicing principals interested in how African American principals support school improvement.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2013