Date of Award

Winter 1-29-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder, EdD

Second Advisor

Myrna Côté, EdD

Third Advisor

Suzette Lovely, EdD


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the perceived impact of barriers created by the intersection of gender and ethnicity on the advancement of Hispanic females to the K-12 principalship. A second purpose of this study was to identify strategies Hispanic females leverage to overcome barriers due to intersectionality while advancing to the K-12 school principalship.

Methodology: This qualitative research study employed a phenomenological approach to describe the lived experiences of nine Hispanic female principals serving in public K-12 schools in Orange and Riverside counties in California. Data collection included an interview protocol of 13 semi-structured questions and one-on-one interviews to explore principals’ perceptions regarding the impact of intersectionality on their career advancement. Interviews were recorded and transcribed, and data was analyzed to identify themes related to research questions.

Findings: Examination of the qualitative data indicated that Hispanic female principals relied on characteristics related to emotional intelligence and grit as they navigated the lengthy and challenging route to the principalship. Participants considered their intersectionality an advantage to their attainment of the role and did not perceive they had been negatively impacted by bias, discrimination, or structural barriers.

Conclusions: Hispanic female principals believed their careers were positively impacted by their intersectionality. With few mentors or role models, principals relied on forms of Community Cultural Wealth including familial and aspirational capital. Additionally, participants, all first and second generation Americans, demonstrated grit, resilience, and positive attitudes characteristic of the immigrant mindset. Findings of the study should be cautiously applied to a wider group as intersectionality was but one factor that impacted Hispanic female principals’ perceptions of the barriers encountered and strategies leveraged as they ascended to the principalship.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to identify the perceived impact of intersectionality for Hispanic female principals who may be less influenced by the immigrant experience. Additional research should explore factors that discourage Hispanic female teachers from seeking the principalship, and the structures that public school districts might put in place to support their advancement.