Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Salina Shrofel


AbstractDespite holding 75% of certified positions in K–12 schools in the United States, women hold just 24% of public school superintendent positions. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to gain an understanding of why female principals and central office personnel attained superintendent credentials and have not yet applied for a superintendent position. The conceptual framework for the study was feminist standpoint theory, which is often used to guide research regarding the knowledge and understanding of marginalized groups. Two research questions were used to explore why female K–12 principals attained their superintendent license and why they decided not to apply for the superintendency. Data were collected in a midAtlantic state via semistructured interviews with eight women leaders who obtained their licenses yet decided not to apply for the role at this point in their careers. In vivo and pattern coding were used to support thematic analysis. Key themes include professional and personal goals, encouraged by others, lack of experience or preparation, discrimination, and satisfaction found outside the superintendency. Participants identified the importance of encouragement and support and acknowledged ongoing gender discrimination, work-life challenges, position politics, and racial and gender biases. Recommendations include mentoring and internships for women to develop their leadership skills at the district level. Implications for positive social change include school district personnel and their school boards using these findings to adjust the ways they promote, mentor, and prepare women for leadership roles, especially the superintendency.