School Board Members and the Underrepresentation of Women in the Superintendency: A Case Study

Cherri Barker

Document Type Article


The general purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how personal attitudes, values and beliefs of individual board members, and the culture of the community affect hiring decisions for the position of superintendent in rural West Texas as it relates to the underrepresentation of women in this position. Local school boards are responsible for selecting and hiring the superintendent of schools. Although most educators are women, women continue to be underrepresented in the superintendency. The research design of the study utilized a qualitative multi-site, multi-subject case study of 15 former school board members in eight rural West Texas school districts. The social-role theory and the patriarchal theory formed the theoretical framework for the study. Data was collected from semi-structured interviews, historical documents, and a social-role egalitarian scale survey. Data analysis was conducted within each case and cross cases to identify repeating ideas and major themes in relation to the theoretical framework and review of literature. The findings of this study revealed school board members chose superintendent candidates based upon personal chemistry and gut feelings. The results showed school board members in West Texas believed women have the ability, the skills, and the qualities to serve as a superintendent of schools, but women applicants were few and often non-existent.