Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Arthur Shapiro, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Steven Permuth, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William Blank, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bruce Hall, Ph.D.


Women, Leadership, Qualitative study, Self-Efficacy, Underrepresentation


A gradual but significant change in America's demographic composition has occurred during the last few years. Millions of Hispanic students, many of them immigrants, have been absorbed in the nation's schools, turning public institutions into multiracial, multicultural, and to some degree, multilingual sites (Tallerico, 2001; Ferrandino, 2001).

In light of the demographic changes and the important role of school leaders, how is the Hispanic principal in the K-12 public schools reflecting the growth of the Hispanic school population? This research studies perceptions the Hispanic female principal attached to their role and role expectations as a principal.

This qualitative case study interviewed eight female Hispanic principals in Central Florida three times. Seven major themes of perceptions and meanings principals attached to their experiences evolved: strong family support, no pre-conceived self-imposed obstacles, high sense of self-efficacy, token Hispanic, being placed in a high Hispanic population school, no consensus regarding principal roles, had Latina mentors, and utilized parts of Latina culture in their professional practice.

Implications included both strong family support for the Latinas entering a professional field and that the principals did not experience self-imposed obstacles. Both need further research, as does the strong sense that these Latina principals perceived they had entered the American mainstream. The strong sense of efficacy needs further research for its causes. Lack of consensus on principal roles has considerable implication for graduate leadership education, needing further research. Of considerable interest is researching what parts of the Latina culture were utilized in their professional practice, and what implication does this have for professional leadership education generally.

Further recommendations for research include a need to evaluate which district policies are effective in recruiting and retaining of Latina administrators. This research may lead to implementing best practices in districts' hiring practices and retention programs that lead to leadership that is more diverse while addressing the underrepresentation of Latinas in counties and institutions selected.