Starting Point
Women on a Plateau

School Administrator, March 2020

One of the great ­perplexities eluding answers among those of us who follow the state of school system leadership is this: Why do women, a dominant presence throughout K-12 education, comprise only one in four superintendents across the nation today?

Since making meteoric gains during a quarter century roughly beginning in the mid-1980s when the representation of women in the superintendency shot up from a mere 1.2 percent in 1982 to 24.1 percent in 2010, according to AASA national surveys, the number has barely budged during the decade now coming to an end.

AASA’s latest decennial study of the American superintendency, which was released publicly last month, shows women now comprise 26.7 percent of the top school district posts. That suggests women are seemingly stuck in place.

This month’s issue offers a few perspectives on the phenomenon with articles about the factors contributing to the plateau, an examination of the glass cliff phenomenon, what is meant by “executive presence” and how a group of women superintendents in central Illinois have mobilized to maintain a semblance of work-life balance.

I always look forward to hearing constructive feedback, even critical, from our readers, so I hope many of you will follow up.

Jay P. Goldman
Editor, School Administrator
Voice: 703-875-0745
Twitter: @JPGoldman