Balancing Acts

Women Principals at Work

By Lisa Smulyan

Subjects: School Change And Reform
Series: SUNY series in Women in Education
Paperback : 9780791445181, 256 pages, March 2000
Hardcover : 9780791445174, 256 pages, March 2000

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Table of contents



Chapter 1
Studying the Principalship

Chapter 2
Methodological Dilemmas

Chapter 3
Dancing on Water

Chapter 4
Handling It Graciously

Chapter 5
Playing the Referee

Chapter 6
Conclusions: Redefining the Principalship




Offers surprising insights into the complex worlds of women principals.


Balancing Acts uses life history and ethnography to examine the lives and work of three female elementary school principals and highlights their daily use of personal and professional skills. Smulyan examines the principals' personal backgrounds and their effect on their work within the community they serve, their school, and the historical and social structures that frame their actions and interactions. What emerges is a fascinating personal view of the dilemmas, decisions, and consequences faced by the female principalship.

Lisa Smulyan is Associate Professor of Education at Swarthmore College. She is the coauthor, with Andrew Garrod, Robert Kilkenny, and Sally I. Powers, of Adolescent Portraits: Identity, Relationships and Challenges, and, with Sharon Nodie Oja, of Collaborative Action Research: A Developmental Process.


"Balancing Acts provides strong, significantly different case studies that illustrate the complexity of principal leadership. " — Khaula Murtadha-Watts, Indiana University

"Smulyan is an excellent writer. She engages the reader, integrating a wealth of detailed accounts and theoretical interpretations. " — Rita Irwin, author of A Circle of Empowerment: Women, Education, and Leadership