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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Eric S. Glover

Committee Members

Elizabeth Ralston, Catherine H. Glascock, Virginia P. Foley


The purpose of this study was to collect information about leadership characteristics of the female superintendents of North Carolina, to understand their perspectives about the role of superintendent, and to discover any challenges they met during their path to the superintendency or during their tenure as superintendent.

Six of the 14 female superintendents serving in North Carolina during the 2011-2012 school year participated. The superintendents were interviewed and asked to take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 profile. This profile provided the superintendents top 5 leadership strengths. Five of the 6 women participated in the profile.

The women revealed that the superintendency had not been a predetermined goal but rather a goal that growth and learning had led them to attain. Passion and teamwork were terms used to describe the superintendency. The women discussed challenges. Responses were clustered as those having no challenges, having challenges within themselves, and having external challenges. Challenges after reaching the superintendency included declining budgets, perception of American education, and gender bias.

The women stated that communication, being open to learning, knowing what you believe, and the ability to create a county wide vision were important leadership characteristics. They indicated that these qualities were static across the genders but how leadership was perceived, accepted, and expressed could be effected by gender.

The StrengthsFinder 2.0 results revealed patterns in the women's scores. All five women scored as being strong in Learner. Three of the 5 were strong in Achiever. Five traits were each repeated twice in the results. Only 7 traits occurred singly.

The study revealed that the women tended toward transformational leadership. They sought to become visionary leaders who used teamwork to address problems and make decisions. It is this researcher's opinion that the passion and transformational leadership displayed by the six interviewed women would be reflected in the work of female superintendents across the state.

As we seek to transform schools, we must transform our view of leadership. We must move from seeking a father figure providing the security of tradition, to seeking a transformational figure providing a new understanding of the future, no matter which gender.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.