Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Martha McCarthy

Second Advisor

Alexander Jun

Third Advisor

Kyo Yamashiro


Data shows that there is an overall dearth of Asian Americans in the role of the principalship in K-12 public schools. According to the Department of Education (2019), Asian Americans made up 5% of the national student population, but less than two percent of all K-12 public school principals identified as Asian. This mixed methods study is designed to provide insight into why there is an underrepresentation of Asian Americans in roles of the principalship in K-12 public schools. Through the theoretical framework, Asian Critical Race Theory, the aim of this dissertation study is to a) examine the factors that may hinder or encourage Asian Americans from embarking on the journey towards the principalship and b) make recommendations and observations on how to break through the existing barriers that may inhibit Asian Americans from pursuing the role. The dissertation studied 92 principals and assistant principals in K-12 public schools and utilized a quantitative methodology with a questionnaire and a qualitative methodology with semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and field notes as data sources. Findings indicate that it is still difficult to be viewed as a competent, Asian American principal. Additionally, women experienced an added layer of challenges related to their gender; and first- and second-generation participants experienced greater difficulty in navigating the system. The findings hope to be the catalyst for promoting more Asian American principals in ways that their voices and stories may be heard. Moreover, this emancipatory research can serve as a liberating experience and contribute to the greater Asian American community, specifically our students. As we continue to make strides towards a more equitable and diverse society, we must prioritize our efforts to truly diversify our educational systems, which include understanding biases and breaking through the bamboo ceiling.