Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Jodi E. Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Pamela Spooner

Third Advisor

Dr. Randy Caffey


The nation’s gender leadership gap, or the disproportionate number of men in top leadership positions versus women, has prevailed throughout the history of public education (Superville, 2016; Rosenberg, 2017). Despite the fact that 76% of America’s educators were women, only 27% of the nation’s school superintendents were female (U.S. Department of Education, 2016; Rosenberg, 2017). Thus, men have continued to dominate the top-level leadership positions within the educational arena (Superville, 2016). The purpose of this study was to investigate the gender leadership gap in the position of school district superintendent. Specifically, the researcher developed two research questions aimed to explore the following: a) to determine what demographic variables show the greatest impact on gender leadership and b) to research Missouri school superintendents perceptions of the variables (gender roles, stereotypes, and implicit biases) influencing the gender leadership gap in public education. The researcher utilized a mixed-method approach in the instrumentation with a Likert-scale survey and open-ended written-response items to collect current superintendents’ input on the topic. The researcher sent the six-part, 45-item online survey to all 561 Missouri school superintendents in 2018. Exactly 137 (24%) superintendents completed and submitted the Missouri Superintendent Gender and Leadership Survey. Based on the findings of the study, the researcher concluded some Missouri superintendents perceived issues related to gender roles, stereotypes, and biases as being obstacles to the female superintendency. The findings also showed more female superintendents believed gender roles, stereotypes, and biases adversely affected the gender leadership imbalance within the school superintendency. Though the majority of the Missouri superintendents vii surveyed believed in the existence of the gender leadership imbalance, most believed it was closing.


Copyright 2018