Date of Award

Fall 11-28-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Philip O. Pendley, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Jeffery Lee, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

LaFaye Platter, Ed.D.


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to examine the barriers and support systems female California public school superintendents experienced while attaining and serving in their current position in a new era of educational reform in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Methodology: This qualitative study examined 12 female California public school superintendents’ experienced barriers and support systems. Convenience sampling was applied to identify participants of specific criteria. The researcher collected and coded data from in depth interviews; interview protocol directly correlated with the research questions of this study. A variety of related artifacts were additionally gathered and analyzed for the generated codes to triangulate the interview data.

Findings: Examination of qualitative data from the 12 female California public school superintendents were organized by sub research question and aligned to the theoretical framework of Activity Theory, identifying barriers and support systems experienced by the participants in one of the following domains: instruments, rules, community, division of labor. This study yielded a variety of findings but unexpectedly, support systems were most frequently cited throughout this study, as compared to barriers. The most frequent code was having a professional mentor as a support system. Moreover, the five most frequent codes of the entire study were support systems in the domain of “community.” vii

Conclusions: The study supported the conclusions that a continued male dominated culture of superintendents continues to exist and is documented as a relevant barrier; current hiring practices of superintendents exclude females; females perceive the role of superintendent will demand high amounts of time and expertise and the demands of home and child care are documented barriers; confidence plays a role in attaining and serving as superintendent; “community” supports provide the greatest support for females both while attaining and serving; LCAP/LCFF collaborative process aligns with the leadership style of female superintendents; and “instruments” provide supports for females aspiring and serving as superintendent.

Recommendations: 12 areas of further research were recommended to increase the body of literature related to these variables.