The effects of specific gender identifications on the espoused and practiced decision-making processes of educational administrators

Joanne Theresa Melillo, Fordham University


Research on gender differences in cognition, power, and moral reasoning over the past decade indicated sufficient male-female differences to warrant further exploration into possible gender differences in organizational behavior as it relates to decision making. The purpose of this study was to investigate empirically the relationship between gender identification and the espoused and practical decision making processes of educational administrators. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was an especially useful adjunct to this study. The T and F dimensions (Thinking and Feeling) of the MBTI were used to determine participants' gender identification. The goals of the study were achieved in several stages. During the first phase of the study, the MBTI was administered to 20 principals. From this pool, the two principals who most strongly demonstrated a Female-identified and a Male-identified world view were studied intensely with regard to their decision making processes. This was accomplished during the second phase of the study through in-depth interviews and analysis of the principals' espoused decision making responses to a hypothetical dilemma posed by a case study. The major findings of the study suggest that the inconsistencies experienced by both principals in this work hold significant implications for the design of future administrative preparation programs. These include: (1) understanding how to manage the conflict caused by gender socialization; (2) learning how to work with the conflict engendered by organizations which practice one decision making process but espouse another; (3) resocializing men and women to exhibit behaviors which allow flexibility in dealing with circumstances in ways appropriate to the situation regardless of gender; (4) learning to "read" and adjust to the mixed messages in leadership styles which, in the past, held Male-identified values as the norm but which now focus on Female-identified approaches; (5) learning to deal with gender identification "reversals" where men may hold Female-identified views and vice versa. This study's findings demonstrated the difficulties both male and female administrators experience when negotiating transition. Focusing on change and transition in administrative preparation programs, and supporting principals once they are on the job, could help ensure effective development of a new generation of leaders.

Subject Area

School administration|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Melillo, Joanne Theresa, "The effects of specific gender identifications on the espoused and practiced decision-making processes of educational administrators" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9328425.