The gendering of educational leadership styles: mentoring and the deconstruction of binaries that influence women's access to the superintendency

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Tiffany A. Perkins (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kimberly Hewitt

Abstract: At the onset of this research, approximately 24.1% of superintendents in the United States and 15.7% of superintendents in North Carolina were women. These statistics indicate a national gap of 51.9 percentage points and a 68.6 percentage point gap in North Carolina for gender representation in the superintendency. To better understand the under representation of women in the superintendency, I studied the experiences of how female superintendents in North Carolina were/are being mentored, as well as how they have/are mentoring others. This study explored the mentoring experiences of seven female superintendents in North Carolina to determine the impact such experiences play in reproducing the gendering of leadership roles. The impact of mentoring experiences on subjectivity, agency, and women's access to the superintendency was also explored. Poststructural feminism served as the theoretical lens to inquire about practices that reinforce socially constructed beliefs which associate leadership styles with gender and the extent to which these may impact access for women to the superintendency. The results of the study not only contribute to recommendations for improving mentoring experiences and opportunities for women aspiring to the superintendency, but also identify ways that mentoring can support the work of both men and women in creating a more equitable system. The findings of the research suggest that current superintendents have immense power in women's access to the superintendency. As mentors, they can provide protégés with authentic job opportunities, model a variety of effective leadership practices and provide reflective and supportive discourse with and about protégés. Using these strategies positively impact the protégés subjectivity within educational leadership. The results also indicate that socially constructed patriarchal assumptions about leadership and gender are still deeply embedded and more work is needed to deconstruct these assumptions as they complicate women's access to and work within the superintendency.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Female superintendents, Gender Discourse, Mentoring, Poststructural feminism, Social construction of leadership
Women school superintendents $z United States $v Case studies
Educational leadership $x Social aspects $z United States $v Case studies
Mentoring in education $z United States $v Case studies

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