Educational Administration, Department of


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Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol. 6, No.4-October 2008 ISSN: 1541-6224


Copyright © 2008 Pro>Active Publications. Used by permission.


Aware of the gender disparities that exist in the most coveted school district leadership positions, the researchers undertook the project reported here to uncover themes related to factors that contribute to the low numbers of women in the superintendency and assistant superintendency. Having knowledge and understanding of the factors that contribute to the dearth of women's voices and viewing this knowledge from a feminist framework helped us to understand how gender has played into assumptions and practices related to the superintendency and assistant superintendency. Readers can learn from the stories and experiences of the women reported here and understand practices that serve to block women from becoming educational leaders while also learning how to make the paths to leadership taken by a future generation of women leaders less problematic through suggested actions and strategies.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Ella Flagg Young, first woman superintendent of Chicago Schools, was quoted in the Western Journal of Education (1909), as stating the following in regard to the future of women superintendents,

Women are destined to rule the schools of every city. I look for a large majority of the big cities to follow the lead of Chicago in choosing a woman for superintendent. In the near future we will have more women than men in executive charge of the vast educational system. It is woman's natural field, and she is no longer satisfied to do the greatest part of the work and yet be denied leadership. As the first woman to be placed in control of the schools of a big city, it will be my aim to prove that no mistake has been made and to show cities and friends alike that a woman is better qualified for this work than a man. ("The Highest Salaried Woman in the World," p. 515)