Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Christine Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. James Fitzpatrick


Educational leadership positions within school districts across the country are becoming more inclusive and representative of the diverse populations they serve; however, there is still a staggering gender gap within the school district superintendent position. This mixed methods research study was conducted to learn about the experiences of women who have already achieved this top position within a school district. The study involved a primarily qualitative approach through interviews with supplemental quantitative survey data. The three research questions guiding this study were: What are the unique barriers women face during their journey to the school district superintendency? What experiences and conditions either enhance or limit opportunities for women toward a journey of becoming a school district superintendent? What policy actions can local school districts or county offices of education take to hire, retain, and increase the number of female school district superintendents? The study revealed barriers experienced by women along with the conditions and experiences necessary to help remove these barriers. The conditions that support women in becoming school district superintendents are broad; however, the study revealed having the support of family, finding ways to create an equal partnership within the home, finding a district that is a good fit, and stepping into experiences that will help grow professional self-efficacy can help to break down barriers and open doors. To achieve gender parity within the school district superintendency, educational leaders, school boards, and local and state agencies need to help create the conditions that support women as they step into leadership roles.