Pioneering: The Experiences of First Year Female Superintendents in Texas




Fox-Norton, Vanessa Grace

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The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was to describe the experiences of females in Texas who have attained and are in the first year of their first superintendency. In Texas, females accounted for 18% of Texas superintendents in 2010 (Sampson & Davenport, 2010), and 19% according to the Texas Association of School Boards (Webb, 2016, n. p.). The topic of this research was rooted in the superintendents' personal and professional experiences and highlighted using the framework of Women's Ways of Knowing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1997). This research will add to the body of literature in the conceptual shift that is key to reforming opportunities for females. The research questions identified the influencing aspects of how females attain the position and what mentor experiences helped to contribute to attaining the position. The theoretical framework, Women's Ways of Knowing (WWK), includes the five epistemological perspectives, silence, received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge, and constructed knowledge. The WWK framework was used to integrate female superintendent voices on how they know and construct knowledge. The research methodology includes the selection criteria for participants, survey questions, resources, and timeline that supported the design of the research. Data analysis was conducted and addresses the trustworthiness of the research. Each of the female superintendent's attainment of the superintendency and their mentoring were different. However, there were similarities in their aspiration to attain the superintendency. The barriers that they overcame were shaped by reinventing themselves. The themes that arose from the study included a four-stage model of her knowing, (1) Developing Her Voice, (2) Her Growing Resilience, (3) Making Her Meaning and Connection, and (4) Her Aspiration and Attainment.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


female, feminism, first year, superintendent, women, women's ways of knowing



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies