Voices of Women Aspiring to the Superintendency

By Margaret Grogan

Subjects: Education
Series: SUNY series, Educational Leadership
Paperback : 9780791429402, 232 pages, April 1996
Hardcover : 9780791429396, 232 pages, April 1996

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Table of contents



1. A Glance at the Evolution of the Superintendency

2. A Feminist Poststructuralist Framework

3. Routes to the Superintendency

4. Women Administrators at Work

5. Partners, Children, and Homemaking

6. Administrators with Relational and Interpersonal Perspectives

7. Approaches to Leadership: From Traditional to Feminist

8. Conclusions: Placing Women Leaders in the Foreground

Appendix 1. Design and Methodology

Appendix 2. Sample Interview Questions



Few school superintendents in the United States are women, although many women have leadership positions in schools. This book is a feminist poststructuralist account of women aspiring to the superintendency in K-12 public school systems in the United States. It deals with issues of power, gender, and leadership and provides a framework for understanding the contemporary context of the superintendency.


The superintendency offers the most powerful and prestigious positions in K–12 public school systems. Few superintendents of these systems in the United States are women, although the majority of teachers are women and many women have leadership positions in schools. There are also increasing numbers of women in administrative preparation programs at institutions of higher education.

This study of 27 highly qualified women in top-level administrative positions in public education was designed to find out what it is like to be a woman aspiring to the executive leadership position. Research questions included: Why are there so few women superintendents when so many are qualified? What are the routes to the superintendency? What is the context of educational administration in the public school? What kinds of leaders are women who aspire to the superintendency? The research was also informed by a femininst advocacy of social change to discover how and under what conditions a more equitable distribution of superintendencies is likely to occur. A feminist poststructural framework provided the theoretical basis for the analysis of the data.

Margaret Grogan is Dean of the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. She is coauthor (with Mary E. Gardiner and Ernestine Enomoto) of Coloring outside the Lines: Mentoring Women into School Leadership and coeditor (with Daniel L. Duke, Pamela D. Tucker, and Walter F. Heinecke) of Educational Leadership in an Age of Accountability: The Virginia Experience, both also published by SUNY Press.


"I especially like the topic of the research in this book—the many, diverse voices of female aspirants to the superintendency and the organization of Grogan's analysis of their discourses. She probes these discourses which support and resist the prevailing, male-dominated superintendency very well. Her feminist, poststructural analysis is very good. " — Cheryl T. Desmond, Millersville University