Understanding educational and career goals, and attainment of women in educational administration

Kathleen Ann McNeila, Fordham University


Despite the increased number of females in educational administration programs, women continue to be outnumbered by men four to one at the administrative level (Marshall, 1984; The National Data Book, 1990). Obtaining the appropriate degrees and assuming leadership roles was not always enough for women (Edson, 1988). Further research was indicated to understand why women continue to spend time and money to prepare for a job that they had little hope of obtaining. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the educational and career goals, and attainment of women who had obtained their certification in educational administration. This study was also designed to investigate the differences in career goals and aspirations among women who are currently school administrators and women who are unable or unwilling to become educational administrators despite having obtained the necessary certification. This study focused on females from a northeastern university who graduated between 1986 and 1989 with a Professional Diploma in educational administration. The women in this group were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire which was used as an additional data source and incorporated into the final analysis of the study. An in-depth interview was conducted with the women who volunteered to participate in the study. Analysis of the data revealed patterns that categorized the women into several levels of aspiration. The findings in this study suggest that the women lacked motivation and drive to become top level educational leaders. The reasons for their lack of motivation were attributed to financial security and disillusionment with the role of the principal. There is also evidence to suggest that their lack of motivation to achieve could also be attributed to the socialization process which encourages women to gravitate toward support positions (e.g., assistant principal, coordinator, director). If change is to occur and women are to assume a greater level of leadership in education, it is incumbent upon universities and program directors to offer females programs of study that will prepare them to be confident and aggressive competitors.

Subject Area

School administration|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

McNeila, Kathleen Ann, "Understanding educational and career goals, and attainment of women in educational administration" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9328417.