Perceptions of Females in Virginia Regarding the Personal and Professional Factors Impacting Their Career Paths to the Superintendency

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Virginia Tech


Females currently represent the largest number of teachers in the United States but yet they represent the smallest number of superintendents (Miller, 2009). While female students and educators are increasing, few of them have attained the superintendency positions within school divisions (Hopkins, 2012). This phenomenon was examined in the Commonwealth of Virginia through a mixed methods study, which provided an understanding of the career development experiences of female superintendents in public K-12 school divisions. The researcher utilized Schein's career anchor theory (1990), which examined the personal and professional values and dimensions that influence career choices. Results of the study found that attaining the superintendency among female leaders has not been primarily influenced by career anchors, but rather by their own commitment and dedication to public service. While the main barrier for females to achieve the superintendent's position was related to familial roles, they coping mechanisms of these include emulating the abilities of males or employing the nurturing qualities of females. The study recommends that school boards should design and implement policies that provide an enabling working environment for rising female leaders. Further, educational leadership organizations may explore establishing affinity groups to improve networking among education professionals with diverse genders and cultures.



female superintendents, career anchors, personal factors, professional factors, Leadership