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Sexual Politics in the California Public K-12 Superintendency and District Office Personnel System


A review of literature suggests women superintendents face several disadvantages gaining access to positions as public school district superintendents. This study focused on 1) which characteristics applied to the prediction of women superintendents in California public K-12 system; 2) if the predecessor's sex predicted for the successor's sex; 3) whether the percentages of women districts office staff changed because of districts' hiring of women superintendents. The data include districts that appointed new superintendents between 2000 and 2008, N=1690. Logistic regression was used and found doctoral degree, years of educational service, years in the district, large suburbs and large cities, API, and student enrollment total were the seven predictors show significance for women superintendents. Cross-tabulation was then applied to test whether the predecessor's sex influences the successor's sex, ÷² (1) = 1120 .361, p = .000 < .05, revealing that the association between superintendent's sex before turnover was significant. That is, if districts had women superintendents before, it is easier for women successors to enter these districts again. One repeated, one within ANOVA was used to test whether superintendent's sex influence the percentage of female district staff. The results found it was not significant to determine the rate of increase based on superintendent's sex. Women superintendents did not increased the percentages of female district office staff; rather, women were more likely to enter districts with larger female principal percentages than men. The percentages of female principals and student services staff increased overtime for both women and men superintendents, but the rate of increase was not significant.

This study concludes with only examining the percentages of new hired women superintendents, there were 27.3%. However, if we used historical record of women superintendents, the percentages increased from 8.25% in 1985 to 31.7% in 2008. Women superintendents won a small numbers of districts that used to be men. If we examined by the high status districts, women superintendents were more likely to be in large suburbs and large cities with higher API scores than men superintendents.

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