The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine perceptions of women central office administrators who do not aspire to the superintendency in order to better understand this lack of aspiration. In addition, the study examined perceptions of aspiring women to provide a comparative base. Specifically, the study uncovered 1) perceptions related to the nature of the superintendency, and 2) conceptions and practices of power. This purpose was achieved through a secondary analysis of a pre-existing data set drawn from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Study of U.S. Women Superintendents and Central Office Administrators (Brunner & Grogan, 2007). The study analyzed data from 5 of 8 open-ended questions contained in the survey through an emergent theme analysis method. The conceptual framework for the study was an adaptation of Farmer`s (1985) Model of Career and Achievement Motivation and also contained elements of Bandura`s (1986) Social Cognitive Theory. Data was sorted through an open coding procedure in order to discover patterns or concepts and also allow for a systematic analysis of the data. Conclusions of the study on the effects of background, environmental, and personal elements are: 1) It was concluded that background characteristics have very little, if any, affect on aspiration to the superintendency; 2) Environmental elements identified by participants were school boards and politics, although aspiring women ranked school boards at a much higher rate. Recent research by Kim and Brunner (2009) indicates that career paths of aspiring and non-aspiring women central office administrators differ in that aspiring women come up through line positions and non-aspiring women come up through staff positions. The different paths may shape their perceptions through the experiences to which they are exposed; 3) Personal elements (conceptions of power) identified with high frequency by non-aspiring and aspiring women central office administrators were influence and collaboration. A notable difference was that aspiring women identified research and data at a higher rate of frequency. Again, power perceptions may be influenced by career path experiences. It was also found the non-aspiring women central office administrators were more likely to identify with power as power-over than were aspiring women. This discovery may be used to inform superintendent preparation programs to train women about their understanding and use of power. Other emergent themes that hold possibility for future research was the identification of long hours and hard work. Although both groups identified long hours as a way they get things done, non-aspiring women deemed the work as hard as a much higher frequency than aspiring women; 4) The high frequency themes identified in What else needs to be known was Good Old Boys and Gender-bias by both groups. A notable difference between the groups was that aspiring women were more concerned about mentors and networks than non-aspiring women. This finding may have implications for professional organizations.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. April 2009. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: C. Cryss Brunner. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 188 pages.
Ottino, Krista Leigh.
Diminished aspiration: women central office administrators and the superintendency..
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