The objective of this study was to determine if the gender of the superintendent candidate influences the school boards’ choice for school superintendent. The researcher addressed this topic through a mixed method research study. Data was collected from Washington State school board members through an anonymous electronic survey. Using a mixed method approach, school board members from the Washington State who hired a superintendent within the last three years were invited to participate in an electronic survey. Out of the 647 board members in public school districts in who had recently hired a superintendent and who were invited to respond to the survey, 119 responded, 114 agreed to participate.
The results of the independent sample t-test between male and female school board members returned a significant difference on the importance of visibility in the community (p =0.02). It was determined that there were 100% of male school board members who believed that the visibility of the applicant in the community is important while only 96.8% of female board members believed that it was important. All other qualifications about hiring a superintendent included in this study showed no statistically significant gender-based difference of school board members in terms of their perception of skills and qualifications in the hiring of a superintendent process.
In examining the data further, there was no significant difference in the importance of the following skills and qualifications when hiring a superintendent between the male and female school board members. Based on the results of the ANOVA, the gender of the applicant had a significant impact on the superintendent selection process when it comes to assessing one’s qualification of developing relationships (p < 0.001). Although the majority (80.6%) of the school board members believe that either of the genders are effective in developing relationships, still, the remaining 19.4% of the board perceive women to be more effective in developing relationships as compared to men.
Qualitative data show that the overall school board members generally perceived that gender was irrelevant in the selection of a superintendent; however, socio-cultural factors in hiring decision, the lack of female candidates, and women’s desires and interests generally impact the hiring process.