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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. This study utilized a comparative case study analysis to investigate how gender influenced the experiences of participants in a leadership development program principal preparation program deed to lead public K schools identified as requiring turnaround.
Although both participants conceptualized effective leadership in similar communally-oriented ways, the way they came to construct their identities as leaders varied greatly. These differences were largely influenced by different and, what appeared to be, gendered feedback occurring during the program and when participants entered the job market. In the U. One reason for these lower s is that women are also disproportionately underrepresented in principal preparation programs suggesting pipeline issues may be as much to blame as a lack of longevity in the field Darling-Hammond et al.
And yet, research regarding the underrepresentation of women principals has often focused on considering the barriers and supports, exclusive of preparation, female principals face when becoming and working as school leaders. Moreover, the scope of the research is often narrow and has yet to probe how gender identity and role may influence preparation program participants' understandings of who should be a principal or how the role should be enacted see Sperandio and LaPier,as an exception.
When such studies do exist, they tend to focus singularly on women's experiences rather than investigate how the gendered construction of leadership impacts all participants whether they be female or male. Further, there is little research available that examines the needs of women within the context of leadership development programs Harris and Leberman,and to our knowledge only one study that directly explores how gender biases and stereotypes must be addressed to best support women's leadership development Ely et al. Social role theory gives insights into how women and men are differently evaluated for positions of leadership or other higher status positions and therefore provides a useful framework to consider how leadership and the process of leadership development occurs within the context of principal preparation programs.
Both role congruity theory Eagly and Karau, and status incongruity theory Rudman et al. Social role theory Eagly and Wood, proposes that there are differing expectations regarding behaviors and attributes considered appropriate to men and women i. For women, demonstrating nurturing, caring, and demur behaviors are both desirable prescribed and expected descriptive.
These Open minded amle looking for open minded woman! and attributes are described as communal. Conversely, men are expected and desired to behave in more agentic ways e. As described in role congruity theory Eagly and Karau,women face a double bind in the context of leadership, as prejudice occurs when there is a perceived incongruity between group stereotypes e.
Further, status incongruity theory Rudman et al. Importantly, we recognize that gender is only one of multiple identities individuals hold e. Brooks and Jean-Marie, The saliency of gender bias has surfaced in researcher that examined experience of women in a leadership development program.
These women had varied backgrounds along multiple dimensions and findings suggested a need for deeper investigation, specifically in the area of gender, when examining women's experiences in leadership development programs Weiner and Burton, unpublished paper. Therefore, utilizing social role theory as our theoretical framework, we contend that stereotyping a principal as a masculine role i.
In particular, women participants in principal preparation programs may be perceived as lacking the necessary skills to be principals and will be differently evaluated internally in the program, as they seek out positions as principals and later as they inhabit the role. A growing area of interest among researchers is better understanding the persistent and pernicious gender leadership gap in education e.
Work by Nichols and Nichols and others e. Taking up this charge, and acknowledging that these other identity issues concurrently influence aspirant principals' experiences, in the following section, we provide a historical perspective of the intersection of gender and school leadership to help contextualize the study and our findings. Indeed, teaching was often seen as a natural extension of these expectations with female teachers serving as nurturers of children's minds Weiler, ; Nelson, Over time, society and female teachers themselves came to normalize and internalize these views—focusing their energies on building caring and close relationships with students and Open minded amle looking for open minded woman!
administration as a male endeavor Adams and Hambright, Given this history of the profession it is not surprising that even today many female teachers refrain from becoming administrators or feel a sense of role conflict if they do Loder and Spillane, Frames placing women in the classroom and men in the principal's office were and continue to be reinforced in schools with women often being actively discouraged or disallowed from taking on administrative roles Strober and Tyack, ; Sanchez and Thornton, As Gardiner et al.
Moreover, emergent research suggests that gender bias cuts across other dimensions of identity, and race in particular, with females of color facing discrimination in both arenas, thus limiting their access to leadership relative to male colleagues Banks, ; Reed, In this way, gender appears to be a salient feature across all types of emergent leaders.
At the same time men often receive greater support to become principals, their dominance in the position may also be perpetuated and reinforced by discourses emphasizing more agentic or stereotypical masculine modes of leadership Gill and Arnold, Indeed, despite a move in recent years for schools to introduce more shared or distributed leadership models Elmore, ; Spillane et al.
Moreover, many have argued that this orientation toward principals enacting strong, autocratic and aggressive leadership has been exacerbated by recent education policies emphasizing ability Hamilton et al. Under such conditions, principals are seen as both ultimately responsible for school improvement Shiu et al. Therefore, aligned with the policy rhetoric, it seems likely that the program would emphasize more agentic characteristics and behaviors.
This framing may serve to reinforce rather than reduce gender stereotyping related to the role. This research investigates this phenomenon directly, exploring how gender stereotyping influenced the experiences of participants in a turnaround principal preparation program and contributing to our collective understanding of why a gender gap in school leadership exists and closer to how to rectify it. Indeed, despite recognition that more communal traits are often perceived as valuable in leadership roles Eagly and Carli,perceptions regarding the required characteristics for successful leadership continue to be strongly linked to agentic or masculine traits Heilman, Further, women remain disadvantaged in leadership roles, and more so in leadership positions typically dominated by men Eagly, More troubling, implicit bias arises when individuals are unaware of holding biased or prejudiced feelings toward a particular group e.
This bias occurs automatically or unconsciously and has formed over years of environmental influences Kawakami and Dovidio, ; Rudman, At the same time leadership is defined in these masculine terms, prescribed social roles for women are often framed as communal e. Therefore, when women then exercise leadership as traditionally defined i. This includes being more negatively evaluated when compared to men adopting such behaviors Eagly et al. Alternatively, if women deploy more communal modes of leadership and stay true to biased gender expectations, they risk being seen as ineffectual leaders.
In this way, women are placed in a kind of double bind in which, regardless of their leadership style, they are likely to encounter great resistance Koenig et al. As already highlighted, such resistance may appear as biased negative performance evaluations from external sources, loss of opportunity for leadership positions, and disparate treatment in the workplace Heilman, ; Rudman et al.
Second generation bias stems from both implicit bias and perceptions of lack of fit based on gender roles, which negatively impact women. Second generation bias is difficult to recognize and more difficult to counteract Ely et al. Moreover, though largely absent from the literature, these same biases may impact the messages received in preparation or other training programs meant to grant participants access to such leadership positions i. We sought to address this gap by utilizing an in-depth comparative case study method examining the experiences of two participants female and male in a turnaround principal preparation program.
Using social role theory, the following research questions were used to guide our study:. RQ2: How did gender impact participants' experiences e. This data comes from a larger study that examined how participants in a turnaround principal preparation program came to understand and, later, exercise their roles.
In prior work utilizing this data we looked across the sample to analyze emerging themes regarding male and females differing experiences in the program and resulting understandings of leadership and themselves as leaders Weiner and Burton, unpublished paper.
For this paper, we shift our focus to more closely examine the experiences of two participants in the program to gain a deeper and more holistic of a phenomenon Yin, To achieve this, we took a comparative case study approach Yin as it allowed for an examination of divergent experiences thus aligning with our goal to explore gender differences within the context of social role theory. This method was particularly appropriate for this investigation given our focus on examining the experiences of men and women in principal preparation programs.
We recognize that gender is one of multiple identities held by Open minded amle looking for open minded woman! participants e. Further, we note a need for a deeper investigation of issues of gender in leadership development, as female participants in our work held various backgrounds and identities yet experienced bias based on gender Weiner and Burton, unpublished paper. In particular, this method facilitated our ability to contrast these participants' experiences to help reveal more nuanced patterns that might otherwise be hard to detect in the feedback and support provided to each participant individually Miles and Huberman, The comparative case study method has been used within contexts, including education, that have focused on the individual e.
The protocol was approved by the UConn IRB and all participants ed consent forms regarding participation. Each participant was interviewed 4 times over the year at 3 month intervals, each interview lasting approximately 1 h. Initial interviews were structured focusing on the participants' professional background, motivations for engaging in the program, views on principal leadership and what they hope to gain from the program.
Later interviews asked participants to reflect and consider whether and how their views had evolved over time e. In what ways have your views of yourself as a leader changed as a result of these experiences? As our exploration of role identity emerged over time, early interviews did not ask questions related to this issue directly.
In contrast, later included questions responsive to participants' emerging understandings and experiences and hence spoke more directly to issues of gender and how they played out within the context of the program. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Our decision to focus on these individuals was two-fold.
First, the subjects were most similar in their professional and demographic backgrounds. Though the participants were different in their gender and race, both were in their late 30s with young children at home and both had been teacher leaders in their respective schools prior to entering the preparation program. They were also considered to be leaders in the cohort and scored very well on all program assessments.
Second, we believed that their stories were particularly illustrative both in terms of representing the larger experiences of the men and women in the cohort, regardless of other identity features, and regarding the intersection between social and gender identity in the preparation program and in their understanding of and engagement as a school leader. Our analysis procedures were informed by our theoretical framework, which is the method preferred in analyzing case study data Yin, We analyzed the data thematically using a deductive coding scheme Boyatzis, Deductive codes were derived both from current research on the factors that may influence women to refrain from taking on principal roles e.
Specifically, Eagly and Karau's conceptualization of role congruity served to frame understandings of participants' descriptions of leadership, as agentic or communal. In addition, whether the feedback provided to participants was framed as Open minded amle looking for open minded woman!
or communal. We also allowed inductive codes to emerge. For each time point, we first independently coded both the interviews and then discussed our codes and emerging understandings from the data until agreements were met regarding interpretation and future coding procedures. This process produced a of additional codes and facilitated inter-rater reliability. We returned frequently to the data to ensure coherency and a grounding in participants' experiences.
Initially, Tom and Thali framed effective leadership as communal. The goals of these activities being to build a positive school culture based on trust and caring relationships between teachers and students. Yet, despite these similarities regarding their descriptions of how an effective principal should behave, Thali and Tom described themselves as leaders and their journey to becoming enrolled in the principal preparation program quite differently. Thali framed herself as a fighter and her journey as an ongoing and uphill battle, while Tom framed himself as a born leader and his journey to the program as a natural progression filled with positive encouragement and reinforcement.
In this way, his enactment of leadership becomes just one more part of his identity—to not act as a leader would be more unnatural than taking on such roles. In Tom's retelling, his leadership capabilities and effectiveness were often reinforced by his colleagues in formal and informal ways.Open minded amle looking for open minded woman!
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“They Were Really Looking for a Male Leader for the Building”: Gender, Identity and Leadership Development in a Principal Preparation Program