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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