Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Rhonda Bishop

Second Advisor

Dr. Autumn Porter

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore


The purpose of this study was to examine the career progression of female superintendents located in southwest Missouri. The inequitable balance of women represented at the highest levels of district leadership is a national, state, and local concern (American Association of School Superintendents [AASA], 2015). Women who do ascend to the superintendent's positions, despite the odds, are in the minority (Brunner & Grogan, 2007). A qualitative, narrative research lens was used in this study to capture individual career accounts and interpretations of career advancement of the female superintendent. Data collection centered on personal, one-on-one interviews with female superintendents located throughout the southwestern region of Missouri. The primary and guiding research questions for this study were focused on self-efficacy, mentorship, pivotal conversations, and goal setting using the theoretical framework of social cognitive career theory (Lent, 2005). A series of common themes emerged from the interviews and produced a clear understanding of the path the female superintendents traveled to assume the most important decision-making role in their respective school districts. Key themes which emerged were mentorship, crucial conversations, goal setting and outcome expectancies, and leading with the heart. Participants indicated they had developed a strong sense of self-efficacy, which led to broader goals and career advancements. In future research, it is imperative to analyze opportunities women have which help shape, encourage, and support other women moving into the role of superintendent.


Copyright 2018