The representation of women in the superintendency has fallen short of prevailing values of gender equality (Ess-Korlander, 2010). This study examined the experiences of female superintendents as they compete for, obtain, and retain the superintendent position in a sampling of public school districts. Three research questions guided the study: (1) What are the experiences that influence the hiring and retention of female superintendents? (2) How do female superintendents navigate board politics? (3) How does mentoring support the hiring and retention of female superintendents?
Twelve participants were selected through purposive sampling from 90 women among 354 urban and suburban school superintendents in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. To participate, the women had to have served in the role for at least 2 years. Data were collected through one-on-one semistructured interviews, as well as document review, and were analyzed using the software program NVivo. To ensure trustworthiness, the researcher employed member checks, clarification of personal bias, peer debriefing, and an external audit.
Results showed that 11 of the 12 participants perceived that they faced gender bias, and four participants perceived that they encountered both racism and gender bias. All had followed the traditional career trajectory from classroom teacher to principal and a central office position before becoming superintendent. Once in the position, all met with board members regularly and kept them informed and involved in committees. Among the major challenges they faced in their position were dealing with budget constraints and decreasing the achievement gap. Mentoring had a significant impact on the participants’ well-being and all 12 had some form of mentoring in their lives from other superintendents, organizations, their district’s cabinets, or their family.
The challenges faced by female superintendents call for a more effective and inclusive process for succession planning. Specific recommendations are offered for practice and research based on the implications of this study. School districts must invest in our future by giving the women who have studied and prepared for the role of superintendent a chance to lead.
|Advisor:||Hairston, Joe A., Griffin, Ashley|
|Commitee:||Griffin, Ashley, Grillo, Lisa, Hairston, Joe A., Jones-Fears, Lois Harrison, Rodriguez, Cristobal, Woodson, Kamila|
|Department:||Educational Leadership & Policy Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Communication|
|Keywords:||Gender bias, Hiring, Retention, Superintendency, Women|
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