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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hiring a female superintendent: The gatekeepers' perspective
by Handy, Christine Carol, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2008, 283; 3297153
Abstract (Summary)

Women continue to be underrepresented in the position of the American public school superintendent. Qualified women are actively seeking the superintendency; however, the gatekeepers—school boards and search consultants, are not letting women in at the same rate as men. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the selection of recently appointed female superintendents from the gatekeepers' perspective and to determine what factors led the school boards to hire these superintendent candidates over other candidates. This was accomplished through a series of interviews in three school districts with recently appointed superintendents (two females and one male), school board members, and search consultants and document analysis. A male superintendent was included to provide maximum variation sampling and another perspective to compare and contrast.

Findings indicated that school board members preferred a superintendent candidate with prior superintendent experience, experience in the same state, and in a similar sized school district; however, dependent upon the perceived issues and needs of the school district, other factors were favored. One district's priority was student achievement. They hired a female with proven leadership in curriculum and instruction and experience as an assistant superintendent in the same state and a similar sized school district. Another school district's priority was to continue the "upward trend" of the district. They hired an internal female candidate who was the "architect" of the district's Strategic Plan and the former assistant superintendent. Both of these women were the only female candidates in the finalists' pool. The recently selected male superintendent in this study was hired by a school board whose priority was an experienced superintendent who could handle the district like a business and manage the budget and finances. He had experience as a superintendent in four other school districts and extensive experience with budgeting and finance. No female candidates were interviewed in this district.

Other factors that led to the hiring of the superintendents in this study were categorized using three themes: work related traits, professional factors and character traits. Four themes emerged that may work against the appointment of a female superintendent: criteria, beliefs, language, and process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roach, Virginia
Commitee: Chance, Debra, English, Mary, Howerton, Everett B., Lacey, Frieda
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, School administration
Keywords: Female superintendent, Feminist perspective, Gatekeepers, Hiring, School board, Search consultants, Superintendent, Superintendent search process, Women administrators
Publication Number: 3297153
ISBN: 978-0-549-44574-6
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