Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



2009 Pro>Active Publications


Journal ofWomen in Educational Leadership, Vol. 7, No.3-July 2009 ISSN: 1541-6224


Women face unique challenges as superintendents. This study determined barri- ers women face as superintendents and elicited reasons why these women would consider leaving the superintendent's position. Thirty-nine PreK-12 women su- perintendents in Illinois participated in a web-based survey in January 2008. Survey items included information regarding characteristics, pathways to the superintendency, personal barriers, professional barriers, and factors that would cause women to consider leaving the superintendency. Respondents identified familial responsibilities, gender discrimination, employment opportunities, and self-confidence as major barriers. Factors that would cause women superinten- dents to leave their position included employment opportunities, familial re- sponsibilities, and peer support. Six women were also personally interviewed to clarify survey responses and to gain greater insights regarding the barriers. The women indicated that they had experienced barriers related to gender discrimi- nation and familial responsibilities. These barriers did not contribute to the su- perintendents leaving their current positions. Their reasons for seeking new positions would be to pursue opportunities that would enhance their profes- sional experiences or improve their compensation.