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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Dennis Brennan

First Committee Member

Phyllis Hensley

Second Committee Member

Kathleen Sadao

Third Committee Member

JoAnne Gatejen


The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors that contribute to the career achievements of female superintendents in California's public schools. The under-representation of female superintendents in California's educational system is explored, and the study helps explain why it exists and how it can be changed. The personal and professional characteristics shared among the female superintendents are clearly outlined. In addition, the study also describes the personal and professional obstacles these women have encountered while aspiring to become superintendents, how they overcame them and what advice they have for aspiring superintendents. While illustrating these factors, as well as outlining the most typical career path to the superintendency, the study also covers why there is a disproportionate representation of women in the superintendent position, and explores how that can change. Additionally, the study investigates why California has more female superintendents than found in the national average. The researcher used qualitative and quantitative research methods. The population consisted of 152 female superintendents in California. A questionnaire was used to collect personal and professional characteristics data. Thereafter, structured taped interviews were conducted with 10 selected female superintendents. Findings of the study showed that while California has a higher percentage of female superintendents than the national average, there is still a disparity between men and women in this field. The study illustrates the common characteristics shared among the women holding superintendency positions. The female superintendents in California all begin with a minimum of seven years of teaching, and then their career paths begin to vary. Barriers such as chauvinism and prejudice on the part of board members exist, as well as balancing career with home responsibilities. To overcome barriers and achieve success, upbringing is an important factor. Women superintendents tend to be strong in their resolve and to persevere. In order to be successful, it is recommended that superintendents mentor other aspiring superintendents to reinforce the belief that women should be placed in these leadership roles. Also, women should gain a variety of experiences. Numerous reasons were given due to the disproportionate role of female superintendents in California. One included the women's responsibility in the family. To overcome this disproportionate representation, it is recommended that these women have a strong support system at home. California's culture allows women to further advance in education as opposed to other states. According to these women superintendents, tolerance is greater in California, a state with less views about women and more views about growth and progress.




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