Date of Award

Spring 4-12-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Moodian

Second Advisor

Dr. Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Jalin Johnson


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences and perceived challenges of Southern California Arab Muslim females who wear the Islamic head covering (18–40 years old) in the contemporary era.

Methodology: A phenomenological approach was utilized to capture the essence of the participants’ lived experiences while identifying the researcher as the instrument. Data collection was through in-depth, phenomenological, semistructured, and face-to-face interviews with 12 participants who were Arab, Muslim, female, wear the hijab, between 18 and 40 years old, and lived in Southern California.

Findings: This study revealed Arab hijabi women generally feel safe and comfortable living in Southern California because of its multiculturalism and large population of Arabs and Muslims. However, they still experience Islamophobia on a daily basis mostly through microaggressions and have a generally higher level of alertness to their surroundings. They are seen as the other, assumed oppressed, and are underestimated. They are often targets of backlashes and are constantly being judged and criticized from inside and outside of their community because of their visibility. Thus, they are always under pressure and highly conscious of their behaviors. They are highly likely to be harassed and discriminated against based on their identity relating to work and education and were concerned about their professional lives. They have a high degree of anxiety traveling by air and are subjected to more security at the airports under the guise of random selections. The majority of the discriminations went unreported.

Recommendations: Valid and reliable education as well as periodic and relevant cultural competency training are key to reducing discrimination and Islamophobia. Education must start early at schools. Muslim-rights activist groups and leaders must work closely with the local law enforcement agencies and schools to break barriers and educate them about the Muslim community and its needs. They must also work together to educate the Muslim community about their rights and resources available to them, encouraging them to report discrimination and hateful acts.