Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 9-9-2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Heather Miller, Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Tom Cavanagh, Ph.D.

Content Reader

Edward Kim, Ph.D.


Black women executives, glass ceilings, sticky floors, women, leadership, journey, resiliency, social networking, mentoring, faith, family


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to gain an understanding of the journey of Black women into executive leadership positions at predominately White institutions of higher education within the United States. One research question guided this study: What are the experiences of Black women at predominately White institutions (PWIs) of higher education serving in executive leadership positions? Participants were a purposeful sample of 10 Black women executives who currently serve in executive leadership at various institutions across the country. The data collection instruments were structured interviews, member checking interviews, and a personal reflective narrative. The typological analysis approach as described by Hatch (2002) was used to analyze the data collected. The key findings were that participants affirmed five major themes that impacted their journey to executive leadership: (a) glass ceilings and sticky floors which were inclusive of marginalization, barriers, stereotypes and mentoring relationships; (b) characteristic of Black women leaders; (c) resiliency of women leaders; (d) social networking; and (e) the role of faith and family, which help with the journey to executive leadership and sustaining the role once in the leadership position. The Black women executives’ ability to achieve and survive issues related to the above themes aided in the successful obtainment and current sustainability of the roles. Participants viewed strong support systems from family and friends, key mentoring relationships, and university support as critical in their journey to executive leadership.