Values, virtues, and vision of leaders: A qualitative inquiry into the meaning of work for female school administrators

Caryn Dianne Huss, Fordham University


This study sought to understand whether and how women find meaning in their work within the context of their other roles. Three highly experienced female school administrators were interviewed face-to-face in accordance with the Seidman (1998) protocol. Each participant was interviewed 3 times for 90 minutes over a period no longer than 2 weeks. Research was triangulated using documents and observations. Findings include 3 person narrative profiles as well as emergent themes from each of the 9 transcripts, which suggest that women have a gender ideology that guides them in every aspect of their lives. The analysis and interpretation is in response to the following research questions: the definition of meaningful work; the characteristics of a meaningful workplace; the specific activities that enhance personal meaning for these women in their administrative roles; the behaviors which characterize them as leaders; and how they view others they employ. Tentative conclusions gleaned from the study were (a) that women continue to lead creative, complex lives in addition to the strides in the marketplace; (b) that women could benefit from the recognition of their leadership efforts as women leaders in the school community; (c) that women could also benefit from a place where they can exchange ideas with other women about leadership or any other aspect of their lives as women; and (d) that it is of utmost importance that women be able to identify, ventilate, sublimate, and reflect feelings given the demands of their multiple roles. Recommendations for future research include an exploration of gender ideology as it relates to any career, with either gender; an exploration of factors involved in the choice of teaching as a career; experiments with an afterschool commitment and stipend to a control group; on exploration of data relevant to tuition assistance versus out-of-pocket training; and a possible focus as to why people chose certain careers, retain certain positions, and whether they believe in a higher power.

Subject Area

School administration|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Huss, Caryn Dianne, "Values, virtues, and vision of leaders: A qualitative inquiry into the meaning of work for female school administrators" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3210271.