Title page for ETD etd-11052008-121745

Type of Document Dissertation
Author du Plessis, Sarah Browning
Author's Email Address sduplessis@vt.edu
URN etd-11052008-121745
Title Leadership Practices of Women Superintendents: A Qualitative Study
Degree PhD
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Driscoll, Lisa G. Committee Co-Chair
Earthman, Glen I. Committee Co-Chair
Creighton, Theodore B. Committee Member
Martin, Rosalie Marie Committee Member
  • leadership practices
  • school administration
  • gender
  • women
  • superintendent
Date of Defense 2008-10-27
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study was to describe the leadership practices of women superintendents of public school divisions. The researcher interviewed eight women superintendents in the Commonwealth of Virginia examining the participants’ self-perceived leadership practices and their reflections of these practices. Data collection occurred through use of interviews, member checks, field notes, a reflexive journal and completion of the Leadership Practices Inventory-SELF. Descriptive accounts of the women’s leadership practices in the context of their professional lived experiences and within the framework of transformational leadership theory are presented in a narrative format. Findings and conclusions, were determined by analyzing the collected data, the research question and the review of literature. The findings produced eight leadership practices: 1) use consistent and accurate communication with all stakeholders, 2) be visible, 3) use limited delegation,

4) be collaborative, 5) remain poised, 6) accept personal sacrifice of time and family, 7) exhibit confident, and 8) self-educate, be a quick learner. The findings concluded that women described their leadership practices as relationship building practices and practices incorporating issues of gender and silencing. An implication for future research included discussion for a study which would go beyond the self-described leadership practices of the women superintendents and examine how their leadership practices are implemented and perceived by stakeholders and employees. Data from these direct observations may offer further, detailed insights as to how the described leadership practices of this study are practiced, implemented and perceived by others.

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