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Leadership experiences of Black female school principals in the Durban area.

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The current study explores the lived experiences which Black women face in their leadership positions as school principals. The researcher was motivated by her personal interest in this area given that she hopes to pursue a leadership position in the future. An extensive review of the literature indicates that there is a gap in the South African literature narrating the Black female experiences in leadership positions. This research aims to identify the experiences and challenges of Black women working in leadership positions, more specifically those that are employed as school principals as there is limited South African research within this area of Black female principals. This research study further identified how these women overcome the identified challenges. This is a qualitative study using an interpretative phenomenology analysis. Participants were purposely selected from six primary schools in Clermont in the Durban area and semistructured interviews were used to collect data. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. The Intersectionality Theory is a feministic theory that was used as a theoretical framework to frame this study. It describes the marginalisation of Black women in leadership positions due to their race and gender. The findings revealed that Black female principals experience gender and racial discrimination in their positions due issues related to a patriarchal society. Positive experiences were also identified as participants revealed that working with motivated teachers and school learners was enjoyable and fulfilling. It was found that Black females employ transformational and democratic leadership styles in their positions as leaders of their respective schools. Furthermore, supportive structures and spirituality were identified as coping mechanisms which were important to overcome challenges. The study recommends that Black women continue to delegate duties and have supportive structures to overcome their negative experiences. The study further recommends that Black women should be supported and encouraged in their roles as principals. Actions must be taken against race and gender discrimination and measures should be put in place to create supporting, enabling working environments.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.