Female School Superintendents: Their Journey To The Superintendency In Minnesota

Annette Freiheit


The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of becoming a superintendent from the perspectives of females in the state of Minnesota. An electronic survey and interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the journey women take to becoming a superintendent. The findings suggest each person’s journey is as individual as they are. Women still face society’s expectation that men are better suited for the superintendency, which is a construct from the time of the beginnings of the common school when women were teachers and men were administrators charged with overseeing the women. Career paths to the superintendency were also unique and there was no “right or one” path to follow. Many participants had no or little role models, mentors or networks that supported their journey. The barriers these women faced did not stop them from getting to the superintendency, rather they found ways to get past the barriers. Implications for future research would suggest determining strategies for encouraging and supporting more women into the superintendency and studying the implicit gender bias and structures throughout education, from the classroom to the superintendency to the school board and communities.