Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

S. Myran

Committee Member

M. Grant

Committee Member

K. Sanzo


School reform efforts, particularly those that are concerned with equity and social justice have led to an evolution of educational leadership theories and practices. Among these, Culturally Responsive School Leadership and Critical Race Theory have emerged as potential frameworks for dismantling the ghost of neo-managerialism and its impact on Black and Brown students’ academic success (Barton, 1998; MacRuairc, 2012; Terry, 1998). Relatedly, there is a dearth in the literature regarding the experiences of Black Women Principals; their lives, leadership styles, and accomplishments are not consistently recognized as valued contributions to educational research (Ladson-Billings, 2002). The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Black Woman Principals. The study yielded five major themes related to their 1) journey to leadership, 2) professional development, 3) focus on relationships, 4) responsiveness to students, and 5) how they navigated leadership norms. Racism, lack of opportunity, placement in “clean-up” schools, and feeling as if they had to work much harder than their White colleagues were among the challenges revealed. This study offers insights about how the ghost of neo-managerialism reinforces the deficit discourse concerning Black and Brown students and their abilities (Thrupp, 2005). The dominant neo-managerial paradigm, with its primary focus on social efficiency, stability, predictability and control was never intended to address issues of inequality or social injustice (Kim, 2018). In this way, the women in this study who engaged in disrupting dominant norms often found themselves working as outsiders.


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