Gender Disproportionality in K-12 School Superintendent Positions

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Henderson, Heather
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Despite an increase in the number of women obtaining senior leadership positions, women continue to be underrepresented in school district superintendencies (Muñoz, Mills, Pankake, & Whaley, 2014; T. Wallace, 2015). In contrast to the number of women in the teaching force, as compared to their male counterparts, fewer women obtain senior positions, leaving the role of the K-12 superintendent male-dominated (American Association of School Administrators [AASA], 2016; Burton & Weiner, 2016; Dowell & Larwin, 2013; Kachur-Reico & Wallin, 2011; Searby, Ballenger, & Tripses, 2015). This ongoing and unresolved issue of gender disproportionality was explored using an exploratory multiple case study. The purpose of this research was to identify internal and external gender barriers and to explore the issue through the lenses of feminist and social capital theories. This study is significant because it will support aspiring women leaders, fill gaps in the research, and broaden the knowledge about gender disproportionality in leadership. The data revealed answers to the research questions about how women superintendents have experienced gender disproportionality, the effects of this lack of gender proportion, factors women attributed to gender disproportionality, and similarities or differences experienced within the two cases. Fourteen of the 19 women who are currently serving as superintendents in two Canadian provinces participated in the study. One-on-one semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and document analyses completed the data gathering process. As the data analysis unfolded, the creation of themes led to five recommendations for addressing the issue of gender disproportionality in the K-12 school superintendent role.
women superintendents , leadership , women in school leadership roles , gender disproportionality , gender barriers , gender disparity
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