Date of Award

Spring 2-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Myrna Cote

Third Advisor

Mona Montgomery


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory mixed-method study was to identify and describe self-sabotaging behaviors experienced by female assistant 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 assistant superintendents to overcome self-sabotaging behaviors.

Methodology: This explanatory sequential mixed-method study described the experiences of ten female assistant superintendents in California. The first phase of the study was quantitative and included an online survey designed to identify female assistant superintendents’ most prevalent self-sabotaging behaviors and the impact they had on their career development. The second phase of the study was qualitative and included one-on-one interviews to gain in-depth information about the self-sabotaging behaviors that impacted their career development, as well as strategies used to overcome them.

Findings: Examination of the data from the ten participants in the study indicated several findings. First, female assistant superintendents engaged in nine self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their leadership careers, and these behaviors were attributed to a variety of internal and external factors. These self-sabotaging behaviors negatively impacted women’s career advancement efforts, and all female assistant superintendents utilized the following strategies to overcome these behaviors: constructive preparation, owning all of oneself, empowering other women, and cultivating self-intimacy.

Conclusions: The study showed that all women engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors throughout their careers, attributed to biological, physiological and neuroscience factors, childhood upbringing, culture, and societal messages. The study also found that self-sabotaging behaviors adversely impact women, and that women utilize a variety of strategies to counteract these behaviors. The most identified strategy female assistant superintendents used to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors was constructive preparation.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to identify self-sabotaging behaviors and their impact on a variety of female educators within public school systems, including teachers, school counselors, site administrators, and district administrators striving for promotions in educational leadership. Further research is also recommended to be conducted to identify strategies female assistant superintendents in other states and with other delimitations utilize to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.