MAKING WOMEN MEN: WHAT FEMALE SUPERINTENDENT STORIES TELL US ABOUT THE GENDER GAP IN THE NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENCY Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
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  • Ashburn, Elena
    • Affiliation: School of Education, Educational Leadership Graduate Program
Abstract
  • In the early nineteenth century, the sexual division of labor in education established women as teachers and men as leaders. With the Common Schools movement and as Taylorism was applied to the process of schooling, the position of superintendent was firmly established by the late 1800s. As women gained suffrage, they launched successful campaigns for elected superintendencies, and in 1930, women held nearly 11% of all superintendencies. In response, powerful men superintendents led successful attacks on the female leadership, halting women’s advancement into the superintendency with lasting effects over the following decades. These attacks still resonate today: even though women hold the vast majority of teacher and principal positions, women represent only 22.5% of all superintendents, and men are 20 times more likely to advance to the superintendency than women. While much has been written about the psychological factors, limited opportunities, and societal expectations that hinder women’s advancement into the superintendency, we need women’s stories to fully understand the inequity. In this study, the researcher explored the underrepresentation of women in the superintendency by engaging in elite interviewing with 14 current female North Carolina superintendents. Using narrative analysis, the researcher examined the narrative strategy each of the 14 women superintendents employs to make meaning of her experiences in the gendered role of superintendent. Motifs across the stories were then identified to understand what women’s stories illustrate about the barriers women face in securing superintendencies. The researcher found that unequal expectations for women’s quality of work, discriminatory working conditions, unachievable work-life balance, and inequitable pay gender the superintendency role such that it remains intentionally designed for men and consequently excludes women. Even when women defy statistics and enter the superintendency, they are forced to change their identities to become men. Instead of forcing women to become men, the researcher posits a restructuring of the superintendency role through a feminist framework to ensure a more socially just educational landscape for women.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Jordan, Jacqueline
  • Marshall, Catherine
  • Houck, Eric
  • Brown, Kathleen
  • Gibbs, Brian
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018
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