Experiences in the Principalship for African American Women

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the perceptions African American female principals hold regarding the challenges and opportunities they experienced when seeking and holding administrative positions in a K-12 public school setting. The interview protocol contained open-ended questions and was used to conduct semi-structured interviews with six participants. Findings indicated that when seeking the principalship, African American women inspired to become principals, obtained the required credentials through district-sponsored cohorts and university programs, were knowledgeable of the required skills, felt mentors and networking were most helpful in obtaining a principalship, and noted that as they served as principals, they took advantage of opportunities to serve their school community. They reported that as they sought and served as principals, stereotypes about African American women were unique challenges and their experiences, opportunities, and challenges were different than those of their peers. Implications from the study indicate school district leaders can encourage African American women to pursue the principalship by promoting positive relationships with other administrators and supervisors, developing mentorships, and promoting district-sponsored programs. District leaders must also maintain awareness and combat the stereotypes faced by African American women as they seek and hold administrative positions.



African American feminist epistemology, double jeopardy, intersectionality, racial discrimination, stereotypes