Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James Bailey


African American women are underrepresented in the attainment of superintendent roles from a racial and gendered standpoint. African American females hold only 1% of superintendent positions in a field in which 27% of superintendents are women and 8.6% of superintendents are African American. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe the barriers and supports experienced by African American women in their attainment of superintendent roles in rural U.S. school districts. Black feminist thought and intersectionality provided the conceptual frameworks for this qualitative study. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with eight African American female superintendents from rural U.S. school districts. Data were analyzed from open coding to gather categories and axial coding to establish themes. Findings from data analysis indicated seven themes: high educational and professional qualifications; apparent or nonapparent racial inequity; inequity as it relates to gender bias; cultural lens of the conservative rural concept; the structural lens as trailblazers; resiliency to overcome isolation and self-imposed barriers; and support from mentors, family, and the school community. Aspiring African American female superintendents, educational leadership preparation programs, school districts, and search firms may use the findings from this study and contribute to social change leading to the increased representation of African American women in superintendent roles.