Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Rebecca Stephenson

Second Advisor

Kyo Yamashiro

Third Advisor

Betina Hsieh


Despite what is known about the importance of diversity in the educator workforce, Asian American women (AAW) are not named in conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in leadership. The purpose of this qualitative study was to build on the limited research on AAW in social justice leadership (SJL), explore the lived experiences of AAW educators, and elevate their voices. I sought to answer the research questions: (1) What affordances and challenges do AAW experience in choosing and enacting SJL in K–12 public school systems? (2) How do the intersectional positionalities of Asian American women affect the way they lead for social justice in K–12 public school systems? Eight AAW, who identified themselves as social justice leaders, from five California public school districts participated in semistructured interviews (Leavy, 2017; Seidman, 2019). I used the tenets of Asian critical race theory to analyze the interview data. The analysis revealed that the intersectional identities of AAW inherently present experiences that are simultaneously both affordances and challenges in their pursuit of SJL. Themes that emerged across interviews include: (a) Cultural/Linguistic Identity, (b) Motherhood and Educational Leadership, (c) Silencing Powerful Voices, (d) Role Models, and (e) Navigating White Spaces. Findings suggest public school districts must develop inclusive environments by investing time and resources into identity-informed mentorship, affinity groups, and antiracism and implicit bias professional development at all levels. Moreover, higher education institutions that prepare teachers and administrators for public school service must actively recruit AAW and build their capacity for assuming these critical roles.