Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Administrative Leadership

First Advisor

Gail Schneider

Committee Members

Larry Martin, Regina Smith, Patricia Arredondo, Rene Antrop-Gonzalez


Administration, Career Pathway, High School, Latina Women, Principal, Public Education


For this qualitative study, I used the lens of the Social Cognitive Career Theory to investigate the lived experiences of Latina women navigating their career paths into the roles of public high school principals. Latina women are underrepresented and in some states they are not represented at all. Few Latina women have secured the position of high school principal in public education; however for those who have, it is unclear how they attained the position. It was significant to learn about the factors that have lead to the representation of Latina women who serve as high school principals. The representation of Latina women high school principals is minimal and limited to states where there are high concentrations of the Latino student population. The U.S. Census reported that the increasing number of Latino students entering public high schools will continue to grow in the 21st century. The changing student body demographics in public schools with Latino students are also expanding to different parts of the United States. This qualitative investigation asked the central question: How do Latina women describe their lived experiences while navigating their career paths into public high school principalship?

Participants were asked fourteen open-ended questions. Five major themes emerged from the interviews: (1) early influence (i.e. family and cultural traditions), (2) diverse career background (i.e. professional careers and opportunities into education profession), (3) high achieving teachers (i.e. initiatives and advancement), (4) professional leadership initiatives (i.e. data management, accomplishments, challenges, and support systems), (5) professional upward mobility (i.e. leadership style, supervisors opening doors to the principalship, aspirations beyond principalship). Through their experiences with family and cultural traditions, the Latina women principals developed an early influence foundation. The early influences meant having high expectations and aspirations for children's education, which compelled the principals to ensure that students succeeded in the classroom. A second feature was a diverse career background. A diverse background meant having broad business perspectives, having specialized skills and knowing how to incorporate their talents to manage the implications of leadership in education. Findings from this study confirmed and added to past literature contributions.