Academic journal article Rural Educator

Becoming a Principal: Access Factors for Females

Academic journal article Rural Educator

Becoming a Principal: Access Factors for Females

Article excerpt

In October 2009, President Obama signed legislation that increased federal grant money and was designed to stimulate the economy, bring equity into the workforce, and encourage single mothers to return to college. Ironically, from 2000 to 2009, women already outnumbered men in college enrollment; beginning in May 2005, women outnumbered men in every post-secondary degree category: associate, bachelor, master, doctoral, and professional (Marklein, 2005). Women exceeded men in earning bachelor's and master's degrees and earned two-thirds of all doctorates in education in the 2007-2008 school year (Sommers, 2008). A 2009 National Science Foundation (NSF) survey reported women earned 57% of bachelor's degrees and 59% of master's degrees. The NSF survey also identified 2006 as the fifth consecutive year that women earned the majority of research Ph.D. degrees awarded to U.S. citizens. Data from the 2010 Census Bureau data confirmed that among the working population of 25 to 29-year-olds, 36% of women held a bachelor's degree or more, compared with 28 % for men (Bernstein, 2011).

Investigating enrollment patterns in school administration over a ten year period at a comprehensive U.S. university, Guramatunhu - Mudiwa (2015) found females outnumbered males 2:1. However, despite outnumbering men in educational leadership preparation programs, advanced degrees for women have not translated into more females becoming high school principals. Roser, Brown, and Kelsey (2009) found that female principals in Texas were in the majority at the elementary level (73.5%), but in the minority at both middle school (41.3%) and high school (29.8%) levels. Whether one considers public or private schools, female administrators are accepted and employed at the elementary level but underrepresented at the secondary school level. Women comprise the largest percentage of both the teaching profession and educational leadership preparation programs, but since 1993 have held less than a third of high school principal positions (Digest of Educational Statistics, 2007).

Public perception regarding who is suited to lead schools may impact an individual's advancement. In a Pew Research Center survey, Keiper (2011) reported, "77 percent of [2,142 adult] respondents...said it was necessary for a woman to go to college to get ahead in life, while only 68 percent said the same for men" ("Survey" para. 1 ). Women appear to be a segment of the population qualified but underutilized to serve as high school principals. Whether intentional or unintentional, sex discrimination may be a major factor for females not becoming administrators.

Other factors include the long work hours, too many personal responsibilities, longer tenure in the classroom before moving into administration, changes in career opportunities, outmoded hiring practices, and school politics. According to a study of the American School Superintendency conducted by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), administrators work an average of 50 hours per week. Younger women with families reported this lifestyle was not appealing (Glass, 2000). Hoff, Menard, and Tuell (2006) reported that 68% of female administrators waited until their children were grown because of the difficulty in balancing personal life and the extra duties required outside of the school day. Women spend more years as classroom teachers before moving into administration than do their male counterparts; 7-10 years is the norm for women as compared to 5-6 years for men (Hoff & Mitchell, 2008). Some women find moving into administration for only a few years before retirement not worthwhile.

Data from The National Center for Educational Statistics (2013) and the Digest of Educational Statistics (2007) in Table 1 show that more women serve as elementary school principals than as high school principals. In 1994, females comprised 41% of public elementary school principals. This percentage grew to 56% in the 2004 school year and 64% by 2012. …

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