Barriers Faced by Women: A Study of Female Superintendents in Texas




Galloway, Holly

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This study addressed the problem of women's lack of progression to the position of superintendent by examining causal connections and relationships among factors that relate to women obtaining the position of superintendent. This study extended beyond causal analysis by seeking out the voice of women superintendents and their personal experiences. Five barriers that are recurrent in literature were researched: gender bias, recruiting and hiring practices, women's decisions, career paths, and the demands of the job. The research questions guiding the study were: What are the most salient barriers that prevent women from obtaining the position of superintendent?; What relationships exist between these barriers?; and How can these barriers be overcome? The research design was mixed methodology combining a survey of women superintendents in Texas with interviews with eight of the survey respondents. Surveys were sent to the entire population of women superintendents in Texas (n = 140). The survey data were analyzed using path analysis with Structural Equation Modeling. The interviews were of eight randomly selected survey respondents who volunteered to participate in the study. The qualitative data included an open-ended question on the survey, the transcribed interviews, field notes, and participant checklists. This information was analyzed using a priori and descriptive coding. The outcomes of this study identified gender bias and recruiting and hiring practices as the most significant barriers women face in the state of Texas. Two additional barriers, unexpected gender biases from female school board members and age, were identified. The following characteristics and strategies were revealed as ways the interviewed participants overcame the research barriers: a supportive family, quiet persistence, encouragement by an administrator, networking, and determination and competence.



women school superintendents, sex discrimination in education, Texas


Galloway, H. (2006). Barriers faced by women: A study of female superintendents in Texas (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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