The Role of School Leaders in Securing STEM Education for Black Girls

Miles Nash, Angel, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tucker, Pamela, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The cross-case analysis endeavored to examine the perspectives and practices of middle school principals who were leading schools in which a federally-funded, design-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education grant was being implemented. In the context of a majority minoritized school district, the researcher operationalized the Ontario Leadership Framework (OLF) (Leithwood, 2012) using an intersectional (Crenshaw, 1989, 1991) lens to explore the ways that Black girls’ positionality in the STEM pipeline influenced school leaders.
First, the researcher found evidence of principals guiding the direction of their schools in vision-centered ways that uplifted the needs of historically marginalized student populations. Specifically, school leaders operated from equitable dispositions by creating high expectations among teachers and school staff on behalf of Black girls’ academic and social advancement.
Secondly, the researcher identified strategies middle principals used to prioritize the intersectional positionality of Black girls in the STEM pipeline. Principals demonstrated social justice leadership orientations by engaging external partners in their school community including research-focused university experts as well as STEM professionals of color. The work of the school leaders also aligned with, and even exceeded, the stated STEM education goals of the school district.
This study was a situated exploration of leadership that attended to obvious gaps in the educational leadership, Black girlhood, and STEM education literature. The research aimed to fill the evident lacunae in scholarship focused on the constellation of these important subjects, and simultaneously provide guidance to practicing school leaders regarding ways that they can support and embolden Black girls in educational spaces. To achieve both goals, this research study concludes by proffering an articulated definition of intersectional leadership: to operationalize visionary strategies that privilege the experiences of followers who live the realities of more than one historically oppressed identifier.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Black girls, STEM, Intersectionality, Educational leadership, Principal
Issued Date: