Examining women superintendents' perceptions of the importance of types of mentoring functions.
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Weatherly, Suzanne Gerczak.
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In American public school systems, women hold the majority of teaching positions, while men hold the majority of administrative positions. Reasons for low numbers of women superintendents have been researched for years. One major reason more women do not occupy the position of superintendent is a lack of mentors and networking. This study investigated current Texas women superintendents' perceptions of the importance of 11 types of mentoring functions. Additionally, it determined which mentoring functions the superintendents received from their mentors as they ascended to their first position as a superintendent. This study also investigated the relationship between which mentoring functions women received and their entry time into the superintendency. Demographic information was also collected about current women superintendents in Texas. This quantitative research study included online surveys, sent via a link in emails in November 2010, to all 140 current women superintendents of public school districts. The survey asked women superintendents to reflect on their years prior to their first superintendency. The instrument asked questions to rate the importance of mentoring functions, as well as to rate the degree to which they were experienced, using a 5-point Likert scale. The instrument contained demographic questions. Eighty-eight out of 140 women responded. Women superintendents in Texas rated several mentoring functions as very important to their ascension to the superintendency. There was a significant correlation between the degree experienced and level of importance of each mentoring function. Additionally, there were several mentoring functions that were significantly correlated with entry time into a first superintendency position. Women aspiring to be superintendents could benefit from the findings in this study. When integrated with increased mentor training, the results of this study could increase the number of women superintendents. Women should carefully select their mentors, and seek out role models that exemplify the traits this study suggests are helpful to those ascending to the superintendency position.