The Path to Advancement: The Experiences of Women Educational Leaders’ Movement into Superintendency
The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe and understand the experiences of superintendent-certified women educators who reside in Indiana and are seeking the position of superintendent. Using a qualitative descriptive design [QDD] and open-ended, in-depth interviewing, I attempted to understand and describe the absence of women superintendents leading Indiana’s public schools. This study allowed me to immerse myself in the lived experiences of current superintendent-certified women educators with the goal of understanding what their job search and leadership experiences meant to them and identify common themes that emerged. The conceptual framework of my qualitative study was based on the ideas that women’s pathways to the superintendency are more complex than men’s and are influenced by both internal and external factors. Four women who aspire to be a superintendent, reside in the state of Indiana, and hold an educator’s license with the content area of District Administrator License: Superintendent were interviewed. Qualitative data was collected through use of synchronous, online, audio and video recorded interviews. The analysis of participants’ responses caused five themes to emerge – geography, family or career, mentors, grooming, leadership is “male”/gender bias. The five themes supported the development of three assertions. As women educational leaders continue their path to advancement and pursue the superintendency, maintaining, and preferably improving, their work-life balance is a requirement. Where a superintendent’s position is located, and how the location of this position may impact perceptions of balancing both family and a career, impacts women educational leaders’ decision making. Women educational leaders’ movement into superintendency is greatly influenced by other educational leaders who are in positions above them.