Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Tuesday Cooper


Public schools are facing a leadership crisis regarding the lack of women superintendents in the United States. Although, historically, women have dominated the positions of classroom teachers and outnumbered men in receiving administrative leadership certificates, there is a disproportion in the number of men and women superintendents leading the nation's approximate 14,000 public schools. While current researchers describe the complex roles that the superintendency entails, there is little data on gender differences, specifically, how women superintendents achieve longevity in this role. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the longevity of women superintendents in public school districts and perceived barriers that may influence longevity, using the human relations approach as a theoretical guide. Data were collected using a qualitative, multiple case study of 5 women superintendents, with longevity of at least 6 years, via survey and interview. Data were analyzed for general and emergent themes and related to 3 research questions regarding perceived barriers and longevity. Findings indicated a shift in the perception of barriers over the last 2 decades, with important issues surrounding relationships and possible self-imposed barriers. The women superintendents were no longer worried about breaking the glass ceiling or competing with their male counterparts. Rather, they were concerned with balancing professional and personal responsibilities while maintaining positive relationships at school and at home. Social change may result by addressing perceived barriers of women superintendents to achieve longevity and gender equity. As a result, female perspectives and insights, which have been historically neglected and omitted, may be included in more local and national policy decision-making in educational administration.