Term of Award

Fall 2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Delores Liston

Committee Member 1

Mike Richardson

Committee Member 2

Leon Spencer

Committee Member 3

Gary Hytrek


The field of educational leadership is currently experiencing an era of educational change. Women who work in primarily male-dominated careers as principals of middle schools have experienced a variety of complex issues related to their leadership roles and their gender roles. There has been a notable increase in the number of female principals in Georgia, and in the nation, therefore the role of the principal was studied to determine how much this role has changed. Feminist standpoint theory was used to provide different insights and perspectives about the problem of marginalization of women in educational administration. Georgia middle school principals were the subjects of this study. Through self-evaluation, interviews and faculty surveys, their leadership was examined. Demographic variables impacting these Georgia women were also researched.

Information was gathered about female principals as well as directly from them. This helped to gain a broader, more comprehensive, view of the work they do. Qualitative data, through interviews, were also collected in order to crystallize the perception of the principals. It provided a deepened and complex partial understanding of their work as principals. Discourse analysis was utilized to interpret interview data.

A profile of Georgia's female middle school principals was created from a survey that included personal and professional demographic information. Through interviews, the principals richly described their leadership styles with a large emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. These women tended to highly value relationships and caring for others.

The external structure of administration appeared resistant to internal pressure. Such structure depends upon subordination. The female principals reported having a sense of this structure. They called it "playing the game" of leadership. Similarly, female principals felt forced to be less "feminine" in order to be a "good principal". Due to socially constructed gender traits, women tend to possess strong people-skills and value relationships. Georgia's female principals were perceived as strong leaders and rated them higher than the principals did themselves.


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