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Gendered Behavior Patterns in School Board Governance


by Meredith Mountford & C. Cryss Brunner — 2010

Background/Context: Educational leadership literature lacks research focused on how gender influences decision making, in particular at the highest level of school governance, the school board table. Consequently, whether gender makes a difference during decision making at the school board table has yet to be determined.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This article examines the influence of gender during decision making at the school board table as related to board members’ perceived vocal space/influence and perceptions from others (board colleagues and superintendents) about board members’ vocal space/influence. Findings from one of the few studies of women school board members and some of the published literature on women superintendents are used to support discussions and to increase insight into how gender dynamics may play out at the school board table.

Research Design: This qualitative study is a secondary analysis of a larger study (Mountford, 2001) that investigated many factors related to board member decision-making styles, such as motivation for board service and conceptions of power.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The article concludes with a discussion of how decisions are impacted by gender dynamics prior to and during decision making and further suggests ideas for school board training and educational leadership programs of ways in which programs can be improved to address gender issues impacting decision making at the board table.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 8, 2010, p. 2067-2117
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15944, Date Accessed: 9/25/2017 8:10:59 PM

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About the Author
  • Meredith Mountford
    Florida Atlantic University
    E-mail Author
    MEREDITH MOUNTFORD is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. Her research focuses on school boards, superintendent and school board relationships, school board and administrator preparation programs, and transformational learning outcomes. Two recent publications include, “Historical and Current Tensions among Board/Superintendent Teams: Symptom or Cause?” (2008) and, with L. Skrla, “Infusing Gender and Diversity Issues into Educational Leadership Programs: Transformational Learning and Resistance” (2006). Dr. Mountford is founder and consultant for Board Games Inc.: A Consulting Firm Dedicated to Serving Those Who Serve Others.
  • C. Cryss Brunner
    University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    E-mail Author
    C. CRYSS BRUNNER is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her research focuses on gender, power, the superintendency, the gap between public schools and their communities, technology and leadership preparation, and constructions of identity. Two recent publications include a book, Women Leading School Systems: Uncommon Roads to Fulfillment (Brunner & Grogan, 2007), and an article with M. D. Miller, “Social Impact in Technologically-mediated Communication: An Examination of Online Influence” (2008).
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