Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in School Leadership


Teaching & Educational Leadership


College of Education and Health

Committee Chair

Dr. John Freeman

Second Committee Member

Dr. Steve Bounds

Third Committee Member

Dr. Charity Smith

Program Director

Dr. John Freeman

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Sarah Gordon



The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the lived experiences of African American female Superintendents in the State of Arkansas. One of the major educational issues is the limited number of African American female superintendents in the USA and the state of Arkansas, in particular. African American women venturing into the superintendency are hindered in their goals by their double minority status as women and African Americans (Wiley et al., 2017). A qualitative, narrative research lens was used in this study to capture the individual career advancement of African American female Superintendents in the State of Arkansas. Data collection centered on personal, one-on-one interviews with African American female Superintendents in the State of Arkansas. The primary and guiding research questions for this study were focused on the women backgrounds, experiences, and educational paths that led to their superintendent position. A series of common themes emerged from the interviews and produced a clear understanding of the path the female superintendents traveled to assume the most important decision-making role in their respective school districts. Key themes which emerged were leadership ability, leadership desire, and mentorship. Participants indicated they had developed a keen sense of self-efficacy, which led to broader goals and career advancements. In future research, it is important to analyze opportunities women have which help shape, encourage, and support other African American women moving into the role of Superintendent in the State of Arkansas.

Keywords: Superintendent, African American, women, female, leadership, and Arkansas