Latina superintendents in Texas: A case study of career paths, influences, and motivation



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ABSTRACT Latina Superintendents are few in number in the education world. Although there has been an overall increase in the number of female superintendents in the last two decades, the number of Latina superintendents who hold a doctorate degree is not as high as those of other females in Texas. Many studies on Latina superintendents in school districts are relatively unexamined because of such small numbers of superintendents in the field. This study was conducted to find some answers regarding the Latina superintendent and her career path and barriers, family influences, motivations, and aspirations in seeking and obtaining the superintendent position. The study focused on the experiences of three Latina superintendents in Texas who hold a doctorate degree and found some characteristics and attributes they had in common. The central research question to this study was: What are the factors that facilitated Latinas' attainment of the superintendency in Texas? The sub questions to this study were: a) What are the career paths and barriers of Latina superintendents in Texas? b)What are the commonalities and differences in their career paths that contributed to or impeded their seeking and attaining the superintendency? c) How did their aspirations and motivations contribute to seeking and attaining the superintendency? d) How did the family influence contribute to seeking and attaining the superintendency? e) How has holding a doctorate improved the attainment of the superintendency?
This study allowed the researcher and will allow others to increase their interest in the area of female superintendents in a school district and will enable researchers to provide others with answers that might help Latina leaders. This study will help researchers find answers to several questions pertaining to existing female superintendents and how they attained and have retained this leadership position. Most of the literature gears towards male superintendents and the attainment and experiences in this position. The superintendent position remains a male dominant position and therefore it is demonstrated through the lack of literature towards female superintendents and their experiences. The study is a qualitative methodology and the data collected focused primarily through the interviews of three (3) existing Latina Superintendents in Texas who hold a doctorate degree as well as open-ended questions were developed and emailed to the participants to gather information. The audio-taped interviews enabled the researcher to capture precise details and information given by participants.
The findings of the study developed five (5) themes that contributed to the attainment of the highest position in public education. The themes are as follows: • strong family influence • exceptional teachers • they had mentors • doctorate • none aspired to be a superintendent early in their career