Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Emilie Reagan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Frances Gipson

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

John A. Garcia, Jr

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2024 Alyda R. Mir


Education, ethnicity, gender, High-level leaders, Leaders, Women of Color

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership


Although their numbers are growing in the field of education, women of color are highly underrepresented in high-level leadership positions such as superintendent of schools. The purpose of this narrative research study was to explore the experiences, facilitators, and barriers of 20 women of color high-level educational leaders, including district superintendents and assistant/associate superintendents in California. Framed by the concepts of the Leadership Labyrinth, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality Theory, this study aimed to elevate the voices of a marginalized group of educators who earned high-level leadership positions in public educational organizations. This study shed light on the experiences, trajectories, and barriers that the participants in this study navigated to earn their professional positions. Nineteen out of the 20 women of color participants in this study never thought of themselves as leaders and never had any intention of pursuing high-level leadership positions. Mentors from within their organization encouraged them to earn credentials to earn high-level leadership positions as well as provided guidance and reassurance that they had the ability and skills to be high-level leaders of a public school organization. Without mentors guiding these 20 women of color, they may never have been in the high-level leadership roles they are in now. The lived experiences collected in this study provide an understanding of their leadership journeys of how they cultivated their skills and knowledge to earn high-level leadership positions in public educational organizations. This study offers implications for recommendations for practice in educational organizations, policy changes in the state of California, and future research to shed more light on women of color leaders in educational organizations as to why there is such a significant gap between women and men in high-level leadership roles and to highlight the intersectionality of women and what skills and insights they provide to future generations of educational leaders.