An Examination of Black Women Leaders' Educational and Professional Experiences on the Path Towards the Superintendency
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ABSTRACT While many studies have considered the preparation, recruitment, ascension, mentoring and retention of Black women in the superintendency, this qualitative dissertation examined the educational and professional experiences of a former, as well as practicing and aspiring superintendents. This research employed a bricolage of methods, inclusive of qualitative interviewing, ethnomethodology and autoethnography. Participants in the study included five Black women: one former superintendent, one current superintendent and three aspiring superintendents, including myself. The five participants in the study detailed their perspectives of how their race and gender, and in some cases, how the intersection of their racial and gendered identities informed their educational and professional experiences while in the position and on the pathway to the public school superintendency. The following themes were derived from the study: (a) Perceptions of identity and identities: motivators and inhibitors; (b) Non-traditional and non-linear educational and career pathways; and (c) Experience of difference: diversity, struggle and activism. With the racial and gender demographics in education and educational leadership being disproportionate to the number of Black women superintendents, issues of equity in opportunities, career preparation, and advancement and leadership practice are of interest and importance to practitioners, policy makers, and researchers. This study examined how Black women leaders’ race and gender informed their educational and professional experiences on the superintendency career pathway, so that the superintendency within a leadership context has additional perspectives, distinct from the past perspectives of White males, who have occupied the position of public school superintendent.