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Public Policy and Administration


Gary Kelsey


African American women are significantly underrepresented in the role of community college presidents in the United States. Insufficient research has been conducted related to the reason behind the underrepresentation of African American female community college presidents in this nation, warranting an investigation that led to this study. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of 7 current and former African American women who are, or have held, the community college presidency role to gain an in depth understanding as to why, from their perspective, an underrepresentation of African American female community college presidents exists in the United States. Critical race theory is the theoretical foundation that guided this phenomenological qualitative study. Semistructured interviews were conducted to collect data. The data were interpreted using phenomenological analysis. This study found that African American female community college presidents identified several barriers that lead to their underrepresentation. Race and gender were the most influential factors noted. Gender bias was evident in that women are not expected to hold the presidency position. The respondents noted that the U.S. society still has elements of white supremacy where people of color are not trusted with certain leadership positions. These sources of bias have limited access to the college presidency, leading to their lack of representation in the role. The findings of this study can assist leaders and policymakers in formulating and implementing appropriate strategies and policies to end or minimize the disparities of Black women leading US community colleges.

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