Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Joanne Hummel

Second Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Munsterman


The purpose of this study was to compare the socialization process, educational backgrounds, and career commitments of women in educational leader positions with women in education who had not attained leader positions. The possibility that differences exist in those areas that have set some women apart and have resulted in their pursuit and attainment of administrative positions was explored.

Fifteen hypotheses were constructed to investigate relationships between a woman's attainment of an administrative position and the following variables: (a) career status of her mother during her childhood, (b) childhood experiences similar to males, (c) educational level of her father, (d) order of birth, (e) sex of siblings, (f) family size, (g) age of career decision, (h) elementary and secondary school achievement, (i) type of college attended, (j) under-graduate major, (k) highest degree held, (l) hours invested on career-related activities, (m) involvement in career-related activities, (n) goals for career advancement, and (o) action toward attaining those goals.

Two groups of subjects were randomly selected from the population of Michigan's professional women educators. The administrators' group members (n = 100) were women holding administrative positions in public school districts. The teachers' group members (n = 303) were women employed in nonadministrative positions and holding current certification. The return rate was 88% for administrators and 67% for teachers.

Members of each group completed questionnaires developed by the researcher. Questions were designed to provide information about the subjects, their early socialization, educational backgrounds, and commitments to career. They could be answered by choosing from a list of alternative responses. Questionnaires were mailed to each group of subjects. Nonrespondents received a postcard reminder 2 weeks later.

Significant differences between administrators and teachers were found for eight hypotheses. When compared to women teachers, women administrators: (a) more often had childhood experiences similar to those of males, (b) made career decisions later, (c) were higher achievers, (d) held higher degrees, (e) were involved in more career-related activities, (g) had specific career goals, and (h) were acting on those goals.

It was concluded that the women in this study had a great degree of control over their destinies. "Accidents of birth" apparently had little to do with the attainment of leadership positions.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access