Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership


This dissertation examines the professional positioning and professional socialization of African American women school superintendents in the Mid-West area of the United States. Numerous studies revealed that there are very few African American women superintendents (Glass, 2000; Alston, 2000; Brunner, 1999; Ortiz, 1998; and Jackson, 1995). Women educators in general and African American women educators more specifically were not placed in professional paths that normally lead to the superintendency (Alston, 2000; Gardiner, Enomoto and Grogan, 2000; and Shakeshaft, 1987). The ladder to the school superintendency had historically included male dominated line positions such as athletic coaching and band directing with appointments coming from the middle school and high school ranks (Glass, 2000; Shakeshaft, 1987). The opportunities for networking, mentoring, and other professional contacts that assisted in upward mobility within an organization is known as professional socialization (Gardiner, Enomoto and Grogan, 2000). For women and ethnic minorities, their career placements or professional positioning within schools along with the limited opportunities for professional socialization impeded their career mobility to the superintendency (Gardiner, Enomoto and Grogan, 2000; Shakeshaft, 1987).

The significance of this study lies in its professional contribution to African American women who aspire for the superintendent's post. The African American women superintendents who participated in the study discussed their views pertaining to professional positioning and career path leading to the superintendency and the importance of professional socialization in reaching the level of school superintendent.

Women aspiring for the role of superintendent must have a clear picture of the role that professional positioning and professional socialization play in reaching the superintendency. Through the findings of this investigation relative to the role that professional positioning and professional of socialization play for women who aspire for the superintendency, African American women may become knowledgeable in order to move into the highest position of school leadership. As the African American women school superintendents share their insights and experiences leading to educational leadership, aspiring women will hopefully have a concrete guidepost to aid them in successfully attaining the position of school administrators.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access