Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


The higher one looks in the administrative hierarchy, the fewer women one observes. In North Dakota, men filled 98% of the public school superintendencies in 1994. Sixty percent of the school districts had both a male secondary principal and a male elementary principal. Despite these low proportions, various authors have demonstrated that women's typical leadership styles are superior to those of men and are better suited to running effective schools. If women administrators have such natural leadership skills, why are there not more of them in schools? The purpose of this study was to determine the career paths and mobility of North Dakota women administrators as well as their perceptions of obstacles to obtaining their professional goals.

The population of this study consisted of all women administrators working in the public schools in North Dakota during the 2000–01 school year. All of those individuals were asked to complete a questionnaire. Twelve women administrators representing small and large districts were selected to be interviewed. They represented elementary principals, secondary principals, and superintendents or central office administrators.

Traditional patterns in society, compounded with existing myths and attitudes, appear to have created an atmosphere in which few women seem to aspire to or succeed in obtaining administrative positions. Women are forced to resolve conflicts among family responsibilities, career aspirations, and the perceived characteristics of leadership as they aspire to administrative positions. This study provided information on career paths and perceived obstacles facing women administrators in North Dakota as well as throughout the United States.