Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Chair

Leslie Locke

Committee Chair Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 2

Thelma Roberson

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 3

Ann E. Blankenship

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 4

Thomas O'Brien

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling


This qualitative study investigated the phenomenon of continuing underrepresentation of female superintendents in Mississippi K-12 public schools. The study was conducted during the 2014-2015 school year. At the time of the study, women represented 23% of the overall population of superintendents in Mississippi public schools. Fourteen women who were serving as superintendents in Mississippi during the 2014-2015 school year participated. Interviews were conducted, and the qualitative data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. The data were analyzed using constructs associated with feminist theory, feminist postsructural and feminist standpoint theoretical frameworks. Two primary themes emerged as a result of this research study. First, gender discrimination represented the primary factor impacting every area of the female superintendents’ lives – both professionally and personally; and second, the women often denied the existence of or failed to recognize any existence of challenges associated with gender. The findings resulted in specific implications which guided the development of recommendations for policy, practice, and future research. Recommendations for policy and practice included initiating dialogue associated with gender bias between women and men, specifically in the field of education, and the inclusion of gender consciousness as required components in undergraduate education and graduate educational leadership programs. Finally, a number of recommendations for future research were provided including replicating the current study utilizing a case study methodology, exploring the intersection of gender and race relative to the superintendency, and analyzing current education and educational leadership graduate and undergraduate degree programs of study in colleges throughout Mississippi for inclusion (or exclusion) of gender consciousness.