Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Edgar A. Kelley

Second Advisor

Charles C. Warfield

Third Advisor

Patrick M. Jenlink

Fourth Advisor

David M. Blomquist


The purpose of this study was to determine potential factors which affect the advancement of females in the role of superintendent. With the research pointing to a variety of causes for the low percentage of female superintendents, the reason for this study was to make various groups in leadership positions aware of such factors.

Three research questions were studied:

1. Do practicing K-12 male superintendents in Michigan possess significantly different beliefs and perceptions toward female superintendents than do practicing female superintendents?

2. What experiences did the respondent have in working with a female superintendent?

3. What perceptions do K-12 superintendents have as to the barriers which interfere with females aspiring to become superintendents?

This study is a replication of a nationwide study conducted by Zumsteg (1991/1992) utilizing a population consisting of 40 female and 538 male superintendents from the state of Michigan.

The majority of superintendents represented rural districts with school enrollments between 1,001 and 2,000 students. A majority of the superintendents fell between the ages of 45 and 54 and were married, although a greater number of females were divorced than males. The highest degree held was a Ph.D./Ed.D. acquired mostly by female superintendents. Most males held their first superintendency between the ages of 36 and 45, while females' first appointments occurred between the ages of 46 and 55.

Differences were found to exist between males and females relative to various abilities, aspirations, and qualifications. The majority of both males and females believed male administrators are more likely to relocate for career advancement, females are emotionally capable, assertive, and sufficiently competitive to be a superintendent.

In addition, while the majority of male superintendents believed female administrators lack the experience necessary to be a superintendent, school board members are not reluctant to hire females, and sex discrimination does not exist, female superintendents believed the contrary.

Similarities were constant when the respondents were asked about barriers which may exist resulting in a low percentage of female superintendents. These included gender bias, unwillingness of boards to hire females, and the public perception that females are not capable.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access