Self-perceptions of African-American female administrators in New England public schools

by Spence, Barbara Anne

Abstract (Summary)
This study presents information from in-depth interviews with seven African-American female administrators of public schools in New England. Their experiences and socially constructed meanings for their lives and work provide both personal and organizational insights into creative and sustaining leadership roles for minority women. Participants were interviewed in homes and offices. They are well-educated, have traveled, live in middle class sections of the cities or towns, and engaged in social, educational, charitable, and spiritual activities in their communities. Interviews took place from November 1986 through February 1987, spaced three days apart for each participant. The audio tapes were listened to, transcribed, and examined. Interviews concentrated on historical experiences, factors which influenced the participants to enter the field of education, and the meaning of work. These interviews gave voice to an often ignored segment of school leadership, especially in New England. Several common themes and patterns emerged in this study: (1) historical; (2) oppression, discrimination, and racism; (3) determination and stamina; and (4) pride and self-esteem. The participants spoke of obstacles and biases, as well as their own pride and self respect. They described the importance of strong family support and high expectations from family, teachers, and friends. They cited positive role models and early educational experiences that encouraged and inspired them. Despite the oppression, discrimination, racism, and sexism they encountered, these women maintained determination and positive self-esteem. They also acknowledged the importance of mentors, networks, and collegial support systems in sustaining them throughout their careers as administrators in public education. The study concluded with recommendations (1) for African-American women employed in public school administration in New England, (2) for researchers, and (3) for schools of education and inservice programs of public school systems.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Location:USA - Massachusetts

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1990

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