The Effects of Mentoring on Female Superintendents' Success in an Urban School District

Deirdre Callahan, Fordham University


For those in search of gender equity in the U.S., the historical exclusion of women from the upper echelons of our public education system is cause for distress. Though the education profession as a whole remains one of the most heavily female dominated occupations, its female representation in leadership falls far short. This qualitative study was designed to examine the effects of mentoring on the success of those women who, for various reasons and circumstances, have defied the odds and succeeded in the position of superintendent. Throughout interviews conducted with the six women who participated in this study examples of what this researcher attributes to the “Imposter Syndrome” arose. These women occupy some of the most powerful positions in educational leadership, yet information in their interviews indicated the persistence of the belief, internalized even by these participants, that women are not to be trusted with the impressive responsibility of running a school district. The study was an examination of how these women perceived their experiences with mentoring throughout their careers in relation to their success in educational leadership. Findings were identified and presented as a combination of participant experiences and researcher interpretation of those experiences. Although some women in large, urban districts were able to engage in a successful mentoring relationship which led to successful leadership throughout their careers, more must be done to make this effort a priority for all women in all districts.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Womens studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Callahan, Deirdre, "The Effects of Mentoring on Female Superintendents' Success in an Urban School District" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10810637.