Date of Award

Spring 3-30-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Summer Avila

Third Advisor

Myrna Coté


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory mixed-methods study was to identify and describe self-sabotaging behaviors experienced by female superintendents and to explore the impact these behaviors had on their career development. A secondary purpose of this study was to identify strategies employed by female superintendents to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.

Methodology: This explanatory sequential mixed-methods study described the experiences of 11 female public school superintendents in Southern California. For the quantitative phase of the study, an online survey was designed to identify female superintendents’ most prevalent self-sabotaging behaviors and the impact they had on their career development. Following the quantitative phase, the qualitative phase consisted of one-on-one interviews to gain in-depth information about the self-sabotaging behaviors that impacted their career development and the strategies they used to counteract them.

Findings: Examination of the quantitative and qualitative data from the 11 female superintendents participating in this study indicated a variety of findings. Female superintendents engaged in 9 self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their leadership careers. External factors contributed to the development of self-sabotaging behaviors. The self-sabotaging behaviors negatively impacted women’s career advancement efforts and their physical and mental health. All female superintendents utilized the following strategies to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors: building a power web, cultivating self-intimacy, constructive preparation, acting with confidence, engaging in honest self-expression, and inspiring other women.

Conclusions: The study showed that women engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their leadership careers. Childhood upbringing, culture, and societal messages contributed to women developing self-sabotaging behaviors. The study also found that self-sabotaging behaviors adversely impact women. Women utilize a wide range of different strategies to counteract the top self-sabotaging behaviors. Building a power web was the most identified strategy female superintendents used to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to identify the self-sabotaging behaviors and their impact on female teachers, school counselors, site administrators, and district administrators who are striving for promotions in educational leadership. It is also recommended that research be conducted to identify the strategies female superintendents in other states and female superintendents of women of color utilize to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors.