Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Peter Williams

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Dana McMichael

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Jaime Goff


The current representation of women as heads of schools in U.S. independent schools is significantly less than that of men. With little research on independent female heads of schools, particularly in religious school communities, this qualitative study examined the perspectives of female heads of school from the National Christian School Association regarding perceptions and experiences in the leadership role within a conservative Christian school context. This study was framed through social role theory, muted group theory, authentic leadership theory, and emotional labor theory, and guided by one overarching research question: What has been the experience of a female head of school within a conservative Christian educational community? A sample of four current and former female heads were interviewed to understand their experiences. The study revealed seven common themes: (a) faith and calling, (b) influence of mentors, (c) learning to lead, (d) challenges, (e) conservative climate, (f) perseverance and strength, and (g) leadership redefined. Further, it supported the presence of a double bind and recognized the significant expense of emotional labor by the participants in their roles.

Keywords: academia, church of Christ, conservative Christian community, emotional labor theory, head of school, independent school, National Christian School Association, patriarchy, social role theory

Creative Commons License

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



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