The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. John Eller

Second Advisor

Dr. Roger Worner

Third Advisor

Dr. Kay Worner

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Nick Miller

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

African American, women, administrator, perceptions, intersectionality, leadership practices



African American female educational leaders have historically faced multiple racial and gender challenges (Murtadha & Watts, 2005). These perceived challenges could bear impact on African American women’s actual leadership practices. African American women experience daily, the challenges of duality in their roles: the color of their skin (Meyerson, 2001) and their gender (S.N. Jones, 2003). The challenge of navigating the world through the lens of race and gender continually plays a part in the lived experiences of African American women; placing them at an intersection between race and gender across specific social contexts.

An examination on literature related to African American women in educational leadership positions affirms that little significant study has been undertaken on the topic of how perceptions and stereotypes impact African American women’s leadership practices and, indeed, that the field could benefit from further, focused study.

The purpose of this study was to examine the manner in which perceptions of and stereotypes about African American women impact their leadership practices. Four African American women educational administrators who work in school districts in Minnesota were asked to reflect on race/gender issues in their roles as educational leaders. The findings of this study will provide some first steps for future African American women leaders on navigating the role of an educational administrator as an African American and as a woman. The research questions for the study were:

  1. What race/gender issues do select African American women educational administrators, who work in Minnesota, report as having impacted their leadership practices?

  2. What strategies do select African American women educational administrators, who work in Minnesota, report as having identified or implemented to address race/gender issues in their administrative practices?

  3. How have identified strategies of select African American women educational administrators, who work in Minnesota, assisted them in developing their leadership practices?

Commonalities and collective themes were found in the experiences of the African American women educational administrators dealing with race/gender issues. Whether it was in their role as a female or as an African American, each administrator developed strategies on how to deal with race and gender issues. The need to develop these strategies was imperative in order for each administrator to strive and be successful in their roles.

Each educational administrator brought emotion, confidence, passion and tiredness to their participation in this study. They want to stop being marginalized. They want to be recognized, and have the right to be their real self—this was a thread that ran throughout the participants’ interviews. It was apparent, that the need to work for social justice in the area of education is continual...

As the educational administrators from this study continue to face race/gender issues and work toward social justice, the words of each administrator offers advice for not only future African American women educators to reflect on, but society as a whole. Only once these reflections and discussions occur will race/gender issues for African American women educational administrators be addressed.



First and foremost, I would like to thank my family who provided me with incrediblesupport during the dissertation process. To my husband Kent, thank you for all of your support in reading my dissertation and providing me with input and strength. To my children, Matt and David, you both are my heart and your support has helped me persevere. I hope I have role- modeled that you can complete all of your dreams. You have grown to be incredible men. Amy, my daughter in-law, thanks for your encouragement and sending me all of the great pictures of my granddaughter Cora, along the way.

I couldn’t have completed this study without the encouragement, support and strength of friends. Kelley, many thanks friend, you have been my strength, my laughter and one of my biggest supporters. Cara, thank you for role-modeling the process, and always being there with an answer when I needed it.

To my cohort, what a group! I couldn’t have asked for a better group of professional colleagues with great minds, great support and a great sense of humor.

My utmost thanks and appreciation goes to my committee. I am greatly appreciative of the guidance you provided during this challenging process.

To all of my beautiful, strong Black women administrators who agreed to take part in this study. Your story has been shared, may it yield acknowledgement to your struggle and of your strength.

And she had nothing to fall back on; not maleness, not whiteness, not ladyhood, not anything. And out of the profound desolation of her reality she may well have invented herself. -Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, p. 63



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