Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Victoria Ratchford

Abstract

This dissertation was designed to add to the general existing body of literature which examines women's work lives as North Carolina school superintendents. This study investigated the perceived leadership practices of North Carolina female superintendents during the 2008-2009 school year. According to the literature on female superintendents, women comprise the majority of teaching positions, but are underrepresented in the top leadership position in U.S. public schools. Gender inequality and barriers to the superintendency for women may account for disparities among women in the position. The provision of this study may serve to enlighten women who may aspire to the superintendency, as well as provide insight to those females who have already acquired the role, giving them the vision necessary to effectively lead in their positions.

This study surveyed the female superintendents in North Carolina who were listed on the roster of North Carolina superintendents as published by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for the 2008-2009 school year. Using the Leadership Practices Inventory-Self Survey and a demographic questionnaire to gather descriptive statistics, the researcher used analysis of variance to assess the perceived leadership practices of female superintendents based on age, administrative experience and size and structure of their districts.

The findings of this study indicated that neither age nor years of administrative experience had any impact on how North Carolina female superintendents perceived their leadership practices. All of the respondents were aged 50 or older and 77% were aged 55 or older. The respondents' average number of years of administrative experience was 8 years. The structure of the school district was found to be significant in regards to perceived leadership practices for North Carolina female superintendents. The district structure was defined as the ratio of central office personnel to the number of school buildings within the district. When the district structure was 1.59 or less, superintendents perceived themselves to utilize the leadership practice of Enabling Others to Act most often. The findings also indicated that the majority of North Carolina female superintendents described effective leadership practices as having a shared vision and mission, setting goals, communication and having high expectations. The results of this study were compared to a similar study of female superintendents in four midwestern states conducted by Susan Katz in 2004. The female superintendents in both studies perceived themselves to utilize the leadership practice of Enabling Others to Act most often.