Black Women Speak: How Executive-Level Aspirants Perceive their Plights to the Texas Public School Superintendency



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“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”—Malcolm X

The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of African American women serving as executive-level administrators (assistant, associate, deputy superintendents and/or superintendents) in Texas public school districts. Specifically, this study investigated how executive-level African American women in Texas public schools perceive the barriers and contributing factors related to their lack of representation and presence in the superintendency.

The justification of this study was grounded in the disproportionate number of African American women superintendents in Texas. Because this study was delimited to African American women, men and women of ethnic backgrounds other than African American were not included. Participants were limited to African American women currently serving in executive leadership roles (or previously served as superintendent for at least two years).

A narrative inquiry approach allowed for the documenting of the stories about the disproportionality of African American female superintendents in Texas grounded in the perceptions and experiences of African American female superintendents and executive school leaders in Texas.

The intention was to discover if the participants perceived anti-Black woman mythology (encounters with race, gender, class, and socio-economic effects that are promoted by the repetition of derogatory, historical images of Black women, such as Sapphire, Jezebel, angry Black women) to be a major hinderance to their plights. Indeed, anti-Black woman mythology does impact the plight of Black women who seek executive-level positions in Texas schools. Many Black women and women of color have concluded that because they cannot rid the system of such images as described by the design of Sapphire, a reversal of the images might uncover internal strengths of Black women.

As practitioners read this body of work, it is my hope that it will serve to truly inform practices that impact the trajectory of equity in preparation programs, hiring practices and socialization, and workplace civility.



African American, African American women, Aspirants, Colorism, Double Whammy Effect, Educational leadership, Executive-level public school leaders, Jeanes Supervisors, Leadership, Mammy, Networking, Presumption of incompetence, Role strain, Sapphire, Superintendent, Workplace incivility