Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Edith Rusch, Chair

Second Committee Member

Jim Hager

Third Committee Member

James Crawford

Graduate Faculty Representative

Edward Weber; LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages

149

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the impact of Mormon culture and theology on male and female school leaders that co-exist on high school administrative teams. This problematic relationship is caused by the scarcity of female administrators in Utah as they move up the leadership ladder in education. According to the Utah State Office of Education in 2006, there were 118 public high schools in the state of Utah. Out of those 118 high schools, 18 were lead by female principals. There were 141 middle schools. Of the middle schools in the state, 40 were lead by female principals. Of the 617 public elementary schools, 334 were lead by female principals. Of the 40 school districts in the state, only two were lead by females not counting the state superintendent at the time who was female. The teaching population in Utah is over 70% female. This under representation may be approached with more traditional reasoning like family issues, marriage, and other responsibilities female leaders may have. These issues may certainly play a part in the equation, however it appears that there may be more to this story. It appears men may have more access to power and position in Utah, however it doesn't guarantee their success once they are in the position. The predominant Mormon culture forces school leaders to confront or embrace their own masculinities, values, and beliefs as leaders. They must delicately navigate their own leadership style that not only agrees with effective leadership practices, but also falls in line with the surrounding culture and climate of the community they serve. Male leaders in Utah must define themselves in communities that mostly have a one-track perception of what an effective school leader should be. It appears women leaders struggle to access power and positions because the predominant Mormon culture may work against them inside out and outside in. Not only does the culture appear to not embrace their upward movement, many women themselves within the culture do not embrace or support each other's upward movement in school administration.

The research design and approach for this study was phenomenological using interpretive methods. Moustakas (1994) describes phenomenological research in which the researcher identifies the "essence" of human experience concerning a phenomenon, as described by participants in a study. Understanding the "lived experiences" marks phenomenology as a philosophy, as well as a method, and procedure involves studying a small number of subjects through extensive and prolonged engagement to develop patterns and relationships of meaning. In the process, the researcher "brackets" his or her own experiences in order to understand those of the participants in the study (Nieswiadomy, 1993).

Ultimately, the significance of this study may be furthering the discourse surrounding educational leadership for men and women in Utah and how they negotiate their careers in a state that is dominated by a Mormon culture.

Keywords

Christianity and culture; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; School administrators; Sex discrimination against women; Utah

Disciplines

Christian Denominations and Sects | Gender and Sexuality | Regional Sociology | Work, Economy and Organizations

Language

English