Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Independent School Headship Transitions: The Female Experience
by Ratnesar, Meera, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2018, 119; 10976293
Abstract (Summary)

Leadership in independent schools is going through a significant transition and will continue to do so. With the retirements of a number of heads of school and others delaying retirement because of the economic crisis of 2009 (Kane & Barbaro, in press), independent schools are finding themselves conducting searches for new leadership at all levels. The search for heads of school has become an increasing focus and priority for schools and for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). In 2015, NAIS’s journal Independent School devoted an entire issue to the various concerns and factors to be kept in mind as schools navigate this time of change and transition in their leadership.

A growing concern is the small number of female heads of school. Two separate studies by NAIS, one that focused on the effectiveness of the 2009 NAIS Aspiring Heads program and another published in 2010 about the current state of leadership, have reported growing gender disparity on the highest rungs of the leadership ladder. The present qualitative study examined the transition experiences of 13 heads of school and the sources of stability that are or need to be provided for these individuals as they take on the ultimate leadership role in independent schools. Employing field notes and memos, a survey of male and female heads of school, interviews with female heads of school, and focus groups with board members and search consultants, this study deepens understanding of this transitional period for the leadership in independent schools with a special focus on female heads of school.

The results of this study better articulate the specific needs of transitional support for women Heads of school in their first three years of leadership. Participants in this study shared experiences that pointed to commonalities of their positionality as a woman, the transition into leadership, necessary preparation to becoming a Head of school, and the importance of relationship building.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ball, Earl
Commitee: Kuriloff, Peter, Pupik Dean, Christopher, Sands, Priscilla
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 80/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational administration, Gender studies
Keywords: Female, Independent, Leadership, Transition
Publication Number: 10976293
ISBN: 978-0-438-76269-5
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