A Paradoxical Reality: The Blessings and Burdens of the African American Female Educational Leader
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The African-American female educational leadership experience is an interesting and unique journey toward personal and professional achievement. This journey proves to be quite precarious in that it is not unusual for these leaders to find themselves straddling the expectations of two marginalized realities: being Black and female. Consequently, many African-American women have had to shoulder a great psychological and social burden as they have pursued personal and professional excellence. This study utilized a heuristic, narratological case study approach to examine the ways in which Black female educational leaders maintain a sense of self while navigating the expectations, challenges, and barriers they encounter as they assume the leadership role. This approach allowed the telling of their own stories and experiences related to being Black, female, and an educational leader. The guiding research questions were: (1) How have life experiences affected the sense of self and identities of African-American female educational leaders? (2) What type of barriers/challenges do African-American women face as they attempt to balance sense of self with their respective leadership role? and (3) What sustains the African-American female educational leader when faced with challenges and setbacks, as they relate to being female and Black? The Black female educational leaders’ experiences were examined and explicated utilizing complementary theoretical frameworks of Black Feminist Thought (BFT) and Critical Race Theory (CRT), Intersectionality, and Spirituality. This study extends current research on Black female educational leaders’ experiences and maintenance of their sense of self by examining several data sources, including an online questionnaire, in-depth interviews, observations, and dissertations. The results indicated that participants defined sense of self as knowing and being true to one’s self and one’s core values/beliefs. The research findings suggest that clear, purposeful systems of support need to be established in order to provide the conditions for Black female educational leaders to be heard, valued, and treated in an equitable manner to that of their non-Black, non-female counterparts.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Relevant theories -- Review of literature -- Methodology -- Research findings -- Summary, recommendations, and conclusions -- Appendix A. Consent for Participation in a Research Study -- Appendix B. Email Transcripts -- Appendix C. African American/Black Female Educational Leader Questionnaire -- Appendix D. Phone Transcript -- Appendix E. Interview Guide African-American/Black Female Educational Leaders -- Appendix F. Research Observation Guide African-American/Black Female Educational Leaders -- Appendix G. IRB Study Approval