Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1996


The purpose of this qualitative study was to give an indepth and insightful description of the personal and professional worlds of the women high school principals of grades 9-12 in Tennessee in 1993. Specific areas which were addressed in the study included: (1) personal background information, (2) career paths and goals, (3) personal influences upon the women (4) possible barriers, (5) the role(s) of the woman high school principal, and (6) job demands. The data were gathered through a demographic questionnaire and the process of the long interview with open-ended questions with all seventeen of the women high school principals in Tennessee in 1993. Instead of aggregate descriptions, the intent of the analysis was to utilize the direct quotes of the women whenever possible to present a clearer representation of the women's individual perceptions or "life-world". The findings of the study indicated some overall commonalities, specifically in career decisions, educational background, and career paths. The women were greatly influenced to enter teaching by their parents and their teachers. Most of the women had undergraduate majors and minors in English and social studies. Only one of the seventeen women began her career with any career plan other than teaching. The women did not perceive that they had experienced major career barriers, particularly relative to family responsibilities. However, the majority perceived that being "female" was in itself a barrier. The women characterized themselves as spending more time in management than in instructional leadership. Overwhelmingly, the women mentioned "time constraints." The women acknowledged the recent or current existence of a "good ole boy network" in their school systems. They recognized the importance of "mentors," "visibility," and "networking" to career advancement. They recommended to women high school principal aspirants to learn all they can about the job, be visible, work hard, and not be discouraged. The results of this study should prove pertinent in the field of education and particularly to women administrative aspirants and administrative preparation programs.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted