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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sex Stratification Among Principals in California's K-12 System

  • Author(s): Gibbons, Thomas Richard
  • Advisor(s): Mitchell, Douglas E
  • et al.

Research in education involving sex segregation is dominated by a historic paradigm of conflict and sexual politics theory, even when these paradigms may now be inconsistent with the findings of the latest research. Utilizing the California Department of Education's Professional Assignment Information Form (PAIF) in conjunction with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data from 2001-02 to 2008-09 school years this study employs rational choice theory to explain the increases females now enjoy in obtaining the principal position throughout the broad range of schools in California. While previous work contends that women are only gaining access to the principal position in areas that would be seen as "unfavorable" to men, this study finds that women are being made principals systematically in all areas and across nearly all variables. Women are gaining in total proportion of principalships in the more desirable schools in eight of the ten variables studied. Specifically, the hiring of women into principalship positions is increasing in all categories of schools. These include high schools, rich schools, high achieving schools, schools with low pupil-teacher ratios, schools in suburbs and in small towns and in most small schools, regardless of their locations and other factors. Remarkably, these gains are being achieved by women, all while having equal or less education on average than men. However, two variables, "years in the district" and "years teaching", show that women have more years than men in holding the position of principal. The significance of the findings of this study is outlined, as well as suggestions for possible future research.

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