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Posted 04.03.07


Gender and Race Still an Issue for School Leaders

National Survey Shows Women Still Far Behind in Educational Leadership

COLUMBIA, MO - Women fill the vast majority of classrooms as teachers, but check the administration office, and most of the school leaders are men. A new book details a national survey that reveals a gender gap in America's school systems.

"It's shocking to me that in 2007 there is still such a disparity. In 1992, only 5 percent of America's school systems were led by women. Now, that number is 18 percent. I would expect it to be at least 50/50 at this point," said Margaret Grogan, professor and department chair in the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Education's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. "It's not about education; it is about society. Despite the fact that gender is considered to be a non-issue today, there is still a gender issue when it comes to leadership and management."

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The book - "Women Leading School Systems: Uncommon Roads to Fulfillment" - was published this month and co-authored by Grogan and C. Cryss Brunner. It is based on the first major national survey of all female superintendents in the country. Nearly 1,200 women representing positions of leadership in school districts responded to the survey. The study was commissioned by the American Association of School Administrators.

"On a positive note, we found that women who were ready, had their degrees and certifications, tended to get the superintendent positions within a year of beginning the interviewing process," Grogan said. "However, this did not hold true for minority women. It took them several years to get superintendent positions, but they did get other administrative jobs, such as principal or assistant principal positions, more quickly than Caucasian women."

The survey also found that minority women often served troubled districts. The women were driven, enthusiastic and energetic and felt as though they could make a real difference once in a powerful position, Grogan said.

"Ten years ago, the expertise that a woman brought was not as highly valued as it is now," Grogan said. "This could be a good time for women, as school boards are looking for leaders with recent experience in teaching, curriculum and learning as they face the high stakes testing of the No Child Left Behind Act. Women tend to have more to draw on when facing issues such as achievement gaps."



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