Theses Doctoral

In Search of Superwoman: a Phenomenological Study of Health, Wellness, and Female High School Principals in Urban Settings

Shabazz, Fareeda

A recent study conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals found that 45% of principals report that pandemic working conditions are accelerating their plans to leave the profession (2021). The current principal attrition crisis has only been exacerbated by the chaos and uncertainty of the global health pandemic. These conditions combined with the stressors that already exist in public education have created a crisis that cannot be ignored.

On average, 1 in 5 principals turn over each year (Levin, et al., 2020). In order to create strong schools, it will be important to prioritize the needs of current principals and recruit and train future aspiring leaders to take the helm (NASSP, 2020). The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore with a group of female high school principals how they manage stressors in their professional and personal lives--specifically, what health and wellness strategies are used to remain in their roles over time, feel satisfied in their role, and experience a sense of efficacy.

Four overarching research questions will guide this study to focus on how female principals identify challenges and stressors experienced by school leaders and examine how strategies are utilized to manage and overcome the inevitable occupational stressors associated with the role of the school leader. This dissertation study examines (a) how female principals in urban high schools describe the challenges they face in carrying out their dual role as leaders at work and at home, (b) how female principals in urban high schools learn to overcome the challenges they face, (c) the factors that female principals in urban high schools say facilitate and/or impede their ability to manage the personal and professional demands they face, and (d) the strategies that female principals in urban high schools use to improve job satisfaction, professional efficacy, and longevity in the role. A select sample of six female principals shared their experiences in in-depth interviews.

This research makes an important contribution to the field of educational leadership by facilitating a more sustainable female workforce, strengthening school leadership, and increasing support not only for women in the role but for all school leaders who experience occupational stressors and role conflict.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Young, Jeffrey M.
Gooden, Mark
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 15, 2022