Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


College of Education and International Services


Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Third Advisor

Erich Baumgartner



The purpose of this study was to examine the selection practices and requirements for administrators in rural Pennsylvania public-school systems. This study examined aspects of the administrative hiring process in order to explain the significant lack of women in the pool of administrators drawn from the rural Pennsylvania school districts. The research question intended to discern whether school-board members perceived gender bias of female applicants as a deterrent in their hiring or whether there was a paucity of female applicants.


A review of the literature traced the history of education as it pertained to the hiring of women from the 1800s to the present day, including the Federal Glass Ceiling Initiative and the Title IX Act. An author-generated, large-group survey was presented to 45 school-board members on the boards of five different school districts in north-central Pennsylvania. The boards each consisted of nine members. Follow-up interviews consisted of one-to- one personal interviews of a randomly selected group of two members from each of the five school boards.

This research was divided into two parts. The survey covered questions regarding the school boards’ hiring policies and perceived gender bias. The follow-up interviews provided a more in-depth questioning of the hiring process and gender issues. Data were triangulated with frequency tables, interview responses, and member checks. Two outside readers read and documented like responses in the follow-up interview.


Findings of the survey indicated that there are no perceived gender-bias issues in the hiring process of the selected school boards in the rural districts studied. However, responses from females in the follow-up interviews suggest that there have been instances of gender-bias. The common themes that emerged from the study suggest that the disproportionately greater number of male hirings was perceived to be based on the best fit for the job, the rural relocation, and the paucity of female candidates.


The following conclusions can be drawn from the results of my study. The majority of respondents from the school boards of north-central Pennsylvania do not perceive gender-bias to be an issue in the hiring of female applicants for administrative positions. Most school-board members who participated believed that the rural location and the relocation to rural Pennsylvania may be a factor in how many female applicants apply. The school-board members surveyed felt that there was not adequate in-house candidacy to fill administrative positions.

Further studies could address comparing business and educational hiring, the “queen-bee syndrome” of females not hiring other females, the relevance of educational levels and school-board membership’s knowledge of hiring procedures, and a comparison of male vs. female gender issues immediately after their hire in the school district.

Subject Area

Women school administrators--Recruiting--Pennsylvania; Public schools--Pennsylvania

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


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