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Women in the high school principalship: A multicase study

Patricia Williams Rhodes, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


There is limited research on women in the high school principalship. The majority of secondary educational administrators are men, thus, the greater part of traditional literature in school administration is based on the experiences of white males in the school organization. The purpose for conducting this qualitative multicase study was to explore five outstanding women leaders' experiences in the high school principalship. Their stories shed light on the barriers faced and the strategies used to achieve their goals. Their perspectives provide a context for success as practitioners. In this study, I reported the five themes that emerged from unique stories of the journey to and through the high school principalship: support, mentoring and networking, leadership and role definition, focus and personal strength, and adaptation and gender expectations. ^ The five women selected for the study were current high school principals who were selected as the MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals principal of the year in 1999 in their respective states. I relied on participant interviews and reviews of written materials related to their career progression. ^ Attracting and promoting outstanding leaders in the principalship is crucial to advancing excellence in teaching and learning. The information gathered in this study expands our knowledge about strategies and barriers, that female administrators may face and challenges us to find ways to increase support of female aspirants. No generalizations are possible from this study. The findings, however, may inform and broaden understanding for those who provide training for educational administrators, those who currently practice the craft, those who aspire to positions in educational administration, and those responsible for organizational supports such as mentoring and networking. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Education, Administration|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Rhodes, Patricia Williams, "Women in the high school principalship: A multicase study" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3009734.