Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award




Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Dr. Linda Wilson-Jones, Chair

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Dr. Deardra Hayes-Whigham

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Dr. Karen Maxwell



A qualitative phenomenological study examined the challenges and barriers women superintendents encountered in their quest for and service as superintendents in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Women make up most teaching positions today, but men dominate the superintendent’s office. A correlation should exist between the number of women teachers and the number of women leaders. However, women account for less than one-quarter of superintendents in the United States, while men occupy most positions. A qualitative research design was employed to gain a deeper understanding of the problem. After gathering information from research participants, I performed an interpretative phenomenological analysis to identify the commonalities among human experiences. A demographic information survey and semistructured interviews were used to collect data. Social role theory and role congruity theory provide the framework for explaining the barriers preventing women from ascending to supervisory positions and strategies to mitigate them. There were recurring themes revealed in the responses of these seven women, which provided answers to these two research questions. Themes discussed throughout this section were (a) agentic versus communal disposition, (b) stereotypical viewpoint stereotyping, (c) familial commitments, (d) gender socialization, (e) good ole boys’ network, (f) harassment and career assassination (backlash effect), (g) recruitment practices (glass ceiling), (h) school board relations, and (i) mentoring. Through sharing the perception of senior level leaders experiences, potential strategies for breaking through the glass ceiling may be developed.

Keywords: career pathway, career preparation, educational leaders, gender disparity, gender equality, gender inequality, glass ceiling, glass cliff, internal and external barriers, lacking, mentors, missing, obstacles, women, superintendency, superintendent, strategies, recruitment, role model, selection, and underrepresentation

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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