Date of Award

Spring 2-9-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Philip Pendley

Second Advisor

Dr. Felicia Haecker

Third Advisor

Dr. George Sziraki


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Black women in their roles as leaders in the California state government with respect to support received and barriers encountered.

Methodology: The phenomenological qualitative study involved exploring the lived experiences of 12 Black women in positions of leadership in northern California state government with regard to the supports they received and the barriers they encountered during their careers in California state government. Patton (2015) asserted that phenomenology's philosophical interpretation occurs when individuals only know what they experience. Additionally, "to fully understand the phenomenon, it must be described, explicated, and interpreted" (Patton, 2015, p. 116). In-depth interviews were conducted virtually via Zoom. Study participants answered eight semi-structured questions using an open-ended protocol to examine the supports received and barriers encountered. Observation and triangulation were utilized, and the data were coded for emergent themes.

Findings: The analyzed data resulted in 32 themes and 146 references. Sixteen major themes emerged identifying the study participants' supports received and barriers faced.

Conclusions: After reviewing the literature and interviewing 12 Black women in former or current leadership positions within California state government, the researcher concluded that Black women remain underrepresented in leadership positions in northern California state government.

Recommendations: Based on the findings from this study, three recommendations were put forth for future research to advance the understanding of how to examine and improve the underrepresentation of Black women leaders in California state government.