Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Deeb Kitchen

Committee Member

David Weintraub


Black Women, Challenges, Equity, Motivation, Principals, Urban Education


This study explored the problem of why there are so few African American women in urban school principal roles in comparison to other racial groups. African American educators have a significant impact on African American students. Additionally, the need for diversity is not exclusive to African American educators and children, but diverse staff overall impacts student achievement levels and improves equity in disciplinary practices. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of African American women who are currently or were previously urban school principals. Through the theoretical lenses of critical race theory and social inclusion theory, this study examined African American female educators’ motivation to pursue the urban principal role and the challenges they faced along the way. The study looked at how African American women describe the factors that motivated and propelled them to become an urban school principal, as well as the challenges they encountered and how they addressed them. With the 12 participants, the qualitative study used semistructured, one-on-one interviews. The researcher analyzed data from the interview transcripts and the field notes. The results revealed that African American female educators transition into the urban principal role most often with support from a mentor. Also, race and gender bias impact African American female educators’ likelihood to obtain and secure an urban school principal role, to the point where some women leave the field of education. School districts, organizations, and universities have a responsibility to provide consistent workshops, trainings, and audits on the following for their executive leaders and staff: diversity, cultural sensitivity and competence, self-awareness, and bias.