The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Kay Worner

Second Advisor

John Eller

Third Advisor

James R. Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Frances Kayona

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Female Superintendents, Challenges


The purpose of the mixed method study was to identify the perceptions of challenges Minnesota female superintendents report they experienced in seeking and serving in the position of superintendent of schools, including their perception regarding school-board superintendent relations. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods: the researcher designed the research questions based upon the underrepresentation of females in the superintendency and the literature review. Data collection included two phases: 1) a multiple-choice survey distributed to survey respondents through electronic mail; and 2) open-ended interviews conducted with four volunteer interviewees. The multiple-choice survey provided quantitative information while the open-ended response questions presented qualitative data that allowed for clarifying responses and deeper understanding of the information obtained from the multiple-choice survey. Some of the survey questionnaire and interview questions were replicated in a modified version from the survey used in Catherine A. Wyland’s dissertation titled Underrepresentation of Females in the Superintendency in Minnesota.

In general, there is a perception that insufficient qualified female superintendent candidates exist. Even with increasing numbers of females obtaining the licensure for superintendency, both exterior and interior barriers have limited females’ access to the top leadership position in public schools. In spite of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office for Federal Contract Compliance Programs enforcing federal laws, such as the Equal Opportunity Employment Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Civil Rights Act, making it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information (Dana & Bourisaw, 2006). The Federal laws listed above provided an underlying framework for the study; however, stereotypes and societal norms also played a significant role in the selection of the topic of the study.

Study results indicated that 51 female superintendents in Minnesota identified several barriers to seeking and obtaining the superintendent positions and that superintendent-school board relationships are generally positive but often depending on specific issues or situations.



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