Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Dianne Reed

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Tara Horner

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Faith Ngunjiri


Abstract: This qualitative case study described the steps 11 African American women have practiced in growing and continuing their path to notable success in higher education leadership. No one size will fit all, but the methods used by African American women may guide other African American or culturally diverse women on how to transcend into and ascertain the well-deserved leadership roles in higher education administration or faculty careers. This study provided narratives of the women leaders to explain their journey to a leadership role. The purpose of the study was to describe the path, barriers, and supports that African American women encountered but were still able to reach while pursuing executive-level positions. Numerous researchers and studies support that African American women leaders in higher education are at the bottom of the hierarchy regarding leadership positions. African American women continue to become more educated each year, with graduation rates for master’s and doctoral degrees higher than African American men and just as many as Caucasian women and men. African American women endure the most challenging race and gender suppression in administrative and faculty appointments, often given to their counterparts who may not be as qualified or educated. There is limited data on the competency that an African American woman must secure to excel in a leadership position in higher education. The reactions of an African American woman’s behavior, mannerisms, and ethical characteristics were discussed and identified, which may contribute to the discovery of how to become a successful leader in a field where there has always been a challenge to “break the glass ceiling.”

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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