Date of Award

Spring 2-5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Dr. Myrna Cote

Third Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Pianta


Purpose: This phenomenological study aimed to explore the perceived impact of the intersectional barriers created by gender and race on African American females' advancement to a K-12 central office leadership position. The second purpose of this study was to identify strategies African American females leverage to overcome barriers due to intersectionality while advancing to a K-12 central office leadership position.

Methodology: This qualitative research study employed a phenomenological approach to describe the lived experiences of eight African American women leaders employed in K-12 central office leadership positions in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Data collection included an interview protocol of 13 semi-structured questions and artifacts submitted by participants. Interviews were recorded and transcribed, and data were analyzed to identify themes.

Findings: The analysis of data revealed the following major findings. The most referenced finding for this study was that racial barriers experienced while serving as an AAF in a K-12 central office position impact confidence and self-esteem. Assumptions that African American females are not qualified for central office positions, AAF females must be overly prepared to be successful in central office leadership, and the importance of mentorship and sponsorship to support African American females as they advance through their careers were revealed.

Conclusions: The results of this study conclude that African American Female central office leaders face systematic barriers that make it difficult to advance in their careers. Although highly qualified, racial barriers prevent African American females from advancing to Central Office leadership positions. African American female leaders must develop strategies that address race and gender inequities.

Recommendations: It is recommended to replicate this study in other counties, states, and nationally. It is further recommended to examine stress factors that manifest as a result of intersectional barriers African American women face in central office leadership positions as they advance through their careers.

Creative Commons License

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