Date of Award

Spring 3-31-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Dr. Marylou Wilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Myrna Cote


Purpose: The purpose of this exploratory mixed-methods study was to identify and describe the support systems that California Latina superintendents perceive contribute to their retention in the position. A second purpose of this study was to discover to what extent these support systems impact their retention as a superintendent.

Methodology: This exploratory sequential mixed-methods study described the experiences of 11 Latina public school district superintendents in California. Participants were selected based on delimiting criteria, and purposive and convenience sampling methods were applied. The qualitative phase consisted of one-to-one interviews to gain in-depth information about the support systems the superintendents perceived contributed to their retention in the position. For the quantitative phase, an online survey was designed using the interview data. The superintendents completed the survey to identify the extent to which interview-generated supports led to retention.

Findings: Evaluation of the interview and survey data from 11 Latina superintendents yielded several findings. Participants perceived organizational support through board relations, self-confidence from proven leadership, and contract-embedded supports. Community/professional support came from a colleague or network. Family support included values and help at the home. Cultural attributes supplied motivation and was perceived to have made the strongest impact on the Latina superintendents.

Conclusions: Latina superintendents must insist on paid professional development in their contract. They possess resiliency to build positive relations with a Board who differs from them in race and gender. Establishing a confidant relationship with a colleague is critical for navigating challenges. Latinas benefit from family help at home, but cultural gender norms cause internal conflict. They should access their cultural capital as an asset in educational leadership.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to determine if support systems are similar for Latina superintendents in other regions. A study evaluating the experiences of relatives who help Latina superintendents with household tasks and childcare is indicated to potentially offer strategies for successful partnerships. Finally, a comparative study that compares student achievement before and after the tenure of a Latina superintendent is recommended.