Women in leadership positions: Gender issues and the reform agenda

Margo Furst, Fordham University


Recent literature on educational administration suggests that the technicist approach, upon which educational administration has been grounded, has not worked. The empiricist perspective of school administration has focused on the control of the organization and those who are part of it. This approach to administration has omitted issues of social justice, values, and democracy from the discussion. At the same time, our society is moving from the industrial age to the information age which will require a new kind of leadership that is less concerned with dominance and control. Leaders will need to work through consensus and to treat people as equals, rather than subordinates. As women emerge as educational leaders, they bring with them feminine qualities which are inherent in their socialization process.^ A selection of 12 female administrators, who exhibited female leadership characteristics, was interviewed. These women occupied leadership positions at all levels of school administration. This study examined the existence of gender-identified leadership qualities in these female administrators and ascertained if the women used their leadership traits in support of a specific agenda.^ The primary research method chosen to collect data was through a qualitative study by means of in-depth interviews and document analysis. An analysis of the data was conducted through the frames of the neoconservative reform agenda and the civic republican and critical theorist critiques and the literature on feminine leadership. The study explained how these women defined the purposes of school, school renewal, and obstacles to change. Document analysis was also conducted in an attempt to increase the researcher's knowledge and understanding of the school and/or district and the manner in which the administrator conducted business. The major findings of this study revealed that all the women exhibited gender specific leadership characteristics identified in the literature. Eleven out of 12 participants used these leadership traits to redefine school renewal. The majority of the women in this study identified with the civic republican agenda, whose correlates are closely associated with female leadership characteristics. ^

Subject Area

Womens studies|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Furst, Margo, "Women in leadership positions: Gender issues and the reform agenda" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9412135.