Date of Award

Fall 11-11-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Marilou Ryder

Second Advisor

Dr. Myrna Cote

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristin Harris


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory mixed methods study was to identify and describe the perceived impact of W. Johnson and Mohr’s (2019) five disruptive career skills on female K-12 superintendents from an elementary background to their advancement to an executive leadership position. Methodology: This explanatory mixed methods study identified and described the experiences of eight female K-12 Superintendents from California in the area of personal disruption strategies. Respondents were purposively chosen based on specific criteria and recommendations of an expert panel of experts. Data were collected, mean scores were tabulated, and themes were formed with regard to the five personal disruption strategies. Findings: Examination of the mixed methods data from the eight superintendents indicated a variety of findings. First, females who challenge and influence authority do so for the purpose of pursuing equity, fostering relationships, and are more effective when influencing outweighs challenging. Second, humility is a prerequisite skill to improvisation. Third, substance over publicity is the major theme when females engage in effective forms of self-promotion. Fourth, diversification of skills is a main outcome from welcoming a less prescribed career path. Fifth, relying on skills of empathy helps women to aim for respect over likability. Conclusions: The study supported the literature in that some of the key strengths held by females are called on when using these strategies: empathic mindset, equity focused, vi humility, staying in the moment, relying on substance over publicity, developing a diverse resume, respect over likability, and care for others as a primary driver. Recommendations: It is recommended that leadership training for women include ample work in disrupting inequities for student groups and evaluation of pedagogical programs as prerequisites to upper-division leadership. To promote the success of female education leaders, districts should facilitate the active use of feedback groups or professional learning communities to allow female leaders to hone ideas, and improvisational skills and practice perspective-taking opportunities.