The Socialization of a Female Superintendent

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Virginia Tech

This is a single case study of the socialization of a woman in the public school superintendency at the end of the 20th century. It is a description of the forces that come to bear on her behavior as the chief executive of a school system. Socialization is a continuous process of adaptation to and personalization of one's environment. Further, it is believed to be a process that occurs throughout one's professional career and life and not a fixed, end state; therefore, one's career is embedded within one's socialization for life.

A model is proposed which represents female socialization as dynamic role creation through the responses of accommodation and role personalization as they are affected by the interaction of organizational, community, and personal forces. These forces are communicated through the transmittal processes of formal policies, networking, and mentoring. The unique experiences of this superintendent are explored to see if these forces of influence appear in this situation.

Data collected through interviews and document reviews were coded and then analyzed with a matrix. Seven categories of subjects were interviewed, so this study not only provides the perspectives of the superintendent but also those of her spouse, secretary, current and former colleagues in the central office, a building-level administrator, current and former members of the school board, and community residents. Documents from the news media, records of school board meetings, and division publications provided information about the total experiences of this superintendent.

Female, Superintendent, Socialization, Qualitative, Case Study