Factors Affecting the Aspirations and Career Path to the Superintendency: The Differences between Men and Women


April Hershey

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2005



Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Nancy H. Stankus

Committee Member

Helen C. Sobehart

Committee Member

Launcelot Brown


career path, educational administration, gender issues, superintendency, women's issues


The purpose of the this study was to investigate differences between males and females who were actively pursuing or not pursuing the superintendent's position with respects to personal and professional variables. Gender, personal characteristics, career path, career barriers and career facilitators were examined in relationship with aspiration level to the superintendency. The individuals in the sample received an email containing information on accessing the survey online or requesting a paper copy. The survey was accessed online at www.aprilhershey.com. All respondents used the online survey. The sample used in this study included 45 males and 31 females who filled out the online survey. All of these 76 subjects received their letter of eligibility between June 30, 1999 and July 1, 2004 and had not served as a superintendent. All 501 Pennsylvania school district superintendents and all PASA (Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators) members received notification of the survey twice. According to PDE, (Pennsylvania Department of Education) the number of subjects who received the superintendent's letter between 1999 and 2004 was approximately 250, with about half the letters going to males and half to females. Therefore, the return rate of 76 valid responses for this survey was about 30.4% of all potential respondents. Findings showed the interaction between gender and career path was significant. More males tended to have linear career paths, while more females had non-linear career paths. In addition, the analysis of the career path interactions showed that male respondents in a linear career path were significantly larger than those in a non-linear career path. Female respondents were divided evenly between linear and non-linear paths. All respondents were white, and a majority (76%) was married. Males in this study had less years of teaching experience, were married, and had more and younger children than females. This study also found a majority of women to be firstborn as in previous research. Evidence from this study showed that men are more likely to pursue the superintendency than women, and that career barriers or facilitators do not significantly affect the aspiration level to the superintendency for men or women.





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