School administrators' career mobility to the superintendency: Gender differences in career development

Yong Lyun Kim, C. Cryss Brunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this study is to investigate differences and/or similarities between women's and men's career mobility toward the superintendency in terms of career pathways and movement patterns, with specific attention to women's career pathways as they correspond with their aspiration to the superintendency. Design/methodology/approach - In this study of upper level educational administrators in the USA, typical career pathways were identified for four targeted groups of the study: men superintendents; women superintendents; women central office administrators who aspire to the superintendency; and women central office administrators who do not aspire to the superintendency. Four pathways for each group were drawn by analyzing data related to survey respondents' professional experiences. In the analysis, descriptive methods including frequencies and percentages were used in drawing pathways. Findings - One of the major findings from confirmed that career pathways for women in educational administration are different than those of men who typically become superintendents. While many men administrators had worked in line-role positions and moved vertically up to the superintendency, women generally traveled to the superintendency through staff roles and their career mobility patterns were more often horizontal. In addition, significant differences were found between the career patterns of aspiring and non-aspiring women central office administrators. The results of the study raise the question of whether particular career pathways actually create higher quality superintendents. Originality/value - The study includes data from women central office administrators (aspiring and non-aspiring), a large and recent data set that has been missing from most studies of career mobility. The inclusion of this data set allows one to identify: differences between women who do and who do not aspire; differences between seated women superintendents and aspiring and non-aspiring central office administrators; and the potential added value that women bring to the role of superintendent of schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-107
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2 2009


  • Career development
  • Careers
  • Educational administration
  • Schools
  • United States of America
  • Women


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