Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Williams, Frankie

Committee Member

McMullan, Leigh Ann

Committee Member

Armstrong, Christopher

Committee Member

King, Stephanie B.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


The purpose of the study was to explore the lived experiences of exemplary female elementary principals. The qualitative phenomenological study investigated the career paths, job responsibilities, barriers/challenges, and affirmations of exemplary female principals practicing in elementary schools in the United States. The participants were required to have at least 5 years of experience in education and at least 3 years as an elementary school principal. Interviews were conducted by the researcher to acquire explanations about the participants’ perceptions, perspectives, and feelings based on their experiences as exemplary elementary principals. The investigation focused on the females’ career paths, job responsibilities, barriers/challenges, and affirmations as exemplary leaders. Further, the females provided advice and guidance for aspiring female leaders in education. In general, the exemplary female principals started their careers as teachers, married, had children, and obtained advanced degrees and training in educational leadership as they moved to positions as elementary principals. The job responsibilities of the female principals included supervising instruction to improve instructional practices as the instructional leader, monitoring data, implementing policies and procedures, hiring as well as placing personnel, preparing budgets, maintaining a safe environment for students and staff, managing facilities, and purchasing equipment/resources for the organization. The major barriers/challenges faced by the female principals were lacking resources, managing time, prioritizing tasks, and managing tasks for work and home. Advice and guidance for aspiring female administrators centered around the personal, professional, and public service responsibilities that contributed to their success and recognition as exemplary principal.