Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Superintendent, Diversity, Gender, Influences

Major Advisor

Anysia Mayer

Associate Advisor

Robert Villanova

Associate Advisor

Casey Cobb

Field of Study

Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)


Doctor of Education

Open Access

Campus Access


As the challenges of helping all children to succeed in schools increase, fresh ideas and approaches will need to come from a diverse population of leaders. Connecticut’s ability to address the complex set of challenges facing our state will be bolstered by increased diversity within the superintendency, and gender is one important way to bring diversity to this context. With this in mind, this phenomenological study examined the factors that influenced the aspirations of female public school superintendents in Connecticut. I utilized Belenky et al.’s (1986) Women’s Ways of Knowing as a theoretical lens to understand how these women define their place in the world of educational leadership.

I conducted a comprehensive series of three interviews with a sample of Connecticut’s female superintendents. My analysis focused on the role that mentoring and the statewide professional organization for Connecticut’s superintendents played in the emergence of subjects’ aspirations. Analysis also addressed subjects’ perceptions of the role that individual superintendents and other organizations might play in growing the number of female superintendents in the state. Finally, my analysis of concept maps created by the research participants revealed the degree of influence that various factors, including family and personal characteristics, had on the development of female superintendents’ aspirations. Most notably, the emergence of “voice” appears to be a powerful moment in females’ complex decisions to pursue the role of superintendent. I offer recommendations for how to increase the number of females interested in superintendent positions in Connecticut. It is through increased diversity in the cohort of superintendents in the State that we will most meaningfully add to the richness of solutions to the challenges we collectively face.