Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A theoretical explanation for understanding what motivates women to aspire to the superintendency
by Murphy, Kristi I., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2009, 232; 3344714
Abstract (Summary)

This study sought to develop a substantive-level theory that would provide an explanation for understanding what motivates women, enrolled in educational administration doctoral programs, to aspire to the superintendency despite the documented obstacles and barriers a female candidate would foreseeably encounter in her pursuit.

Utilizing a constructivist grounded theory methodology, The Female Superintendency Aspiration Model emerged. This model was constructed based on three days of semi-structured, in-depth individual interviews with 23 women from across the United States who ranged in age, race, family/marital status, and occupation, who aspire to become superintendents.

The Female Superintendency Aspiration Model reveals that women aspiring to the superintendency are motivated to become superintendents as a result of three causal conditions (1) a person of influence, such as a mentor and/or role model, (2) an innate drive to seek out challenging and competitive opportunities, and (3) enrollment in a doctoral program emphasizing superintendency credentials. Each of these factors is further enhanced by multiple outside dynamics, such as women's relationship with her parents, her mother's influence, specific personality characteristics (goal-driven, restless spirit, pressure seekers), and the networking opportunities provided by her university program. Women aspiring to the superintendency demonstrate a strong sense of self-efficacy toward the foreseen literature-documented obstacles and barriers as a result of having a person of influence, networking opportunities, and having goal-driven, realistic personalities.

The study's results can be used by university educational leadership programs to (1) facilitate positive mentoring relationships with female students in the program, based on the innate traits presented in the model, and (2) host and facilitate networking opportunities whereby women have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with current and former superintendents, search firms, and school board presidents and members. These positive experiences, actions, and relationships are vital to encouraging more women to pursue the superintendency.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brown, Carolyn A.
Commitee: English, Mary K., Graham, Carolyn W.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, School administration
Keywords: Female superintendents, Motivation, Superintendents, Women administrators
Publication Number: 3344714
ISBN: 978-1-109-03535-3
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