Understanding leadership experience of Asian American women in public school administration
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The purpose of the study was to understand the leadership experiences of Asian American women administrators in public schools. Three research questions guided this study. First, as school administrators, how do Asian American women interpret and make sense of their professional experiences? Second, how do Asian American women view their roles and purposes as school administrators? Third, what are the challenges and issues that these women face as Asian American women in school leadership? Eleven Asian American female principals and assistant principals from two states were purposefully selected for this study. Qualitative case study methods were used, and data collection primarily relied on face-to-face interviews, informal observations, and reflective memos. The constant comparative method was used to make within-case and cross-case analysis. Three major findings were generated from this study. First, the women to a large degree lacked of career positioning; however, with encouragement and mentorship, they were able to gain access and learn to maneuver the educational systems to assume their leadership roles. Second, the women viewed their roles as school administrators as managing the school and leading people in the school. Through those practical roles, the women believed that they were on a lifetime mission to make a difference on their students’ lives and to uplift the social groups embodied in their identities. And third, the women continued confronting racial and sex discrimination in their professional lives as well as their own uncertainties toward racialized sexism, gendered racism, and women’s leadership. Implications for future research, practice, and policy are discussed in the light of the findings.