Pathways to Administrative Positions
Date of this Version
Published in Women Leaders: Structuring Success, ed. Beverly J. Irby & Genevieve Brown (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1998), pp. 88-97.
Preparing for the job search, acquiring administrative skills, being part of a network, being in the "right place at the right time," and being the most qualified for a position are all pathways to administrative positions.
Throughout the United States, the majority of students enrolled in educational administration preparation programs are women. The struggle by women to gain leadership positions continues in the 1990s. A survey conducted by The Executive Educator and Xavier University shows that women are best represented among the ranks of elementary school principals (39.7%), followed by junior high/middle school principals (20.5%), and high school principals (12.1 %). The lowest percentage (10.5%) of female school administrators work as school superintendents. However, the percentages are increasing; in 1991, fewer than 6% of superintendents were female (Grady & Gosmire, 1995).
Based on the findings of a series of studies concerning women in educational leadership, women need to be encouraged to seek administrative positions. Assistance in seeking positions can and should be supported by a variety of sources including family, peers, colleagues, professional organizations and associations, school board members, state department officials, and college/university preparation programs. Further study is needed to investigate the role of women administrators in supporting other women seeking administrative positions in K-12 settings. Professional organizations and associations may be able to serve in a more systematic manner in this area. Continuing professional development seminars, courses, and workshops may be useful in increasing awareness levels of the need to have more women employed in K-12 educational administration positions (Grady & O'Connell, 1993).
In a study concerning women who hold administrative certification, subjects were asked whether they received encouragement to become educational administrators. Thirty-seven percent indicated that they received such encouragement. As a follow-up question, subjects were asked to indicate how they were encouraged. The primary form of encouragement was verbal. In 21 % of the cases, women were told of an administrative position (18% by a university professor), and were encouraged to take graduate courses in educational administration (19%) (Grady, 1992).
Those successful in acquiring administrative positions reported that their successes were the result of a variety of factors. Preparing for the job search, acquiring administrative skills, being part of a network, being in the "right place at the right time/' and being the most qualified for a position are all pathways to administrative positions.