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Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume I, Issue 1 2012 principals about their current family situations, we repeatedly heard stories about the struggle to balance family and work‖ (Wrushen & Sherman, 2008, p. 459). A study was conducted on female superintendents to determine their perceptions of career advancement barriers. The barrier receiving the highest mean score was conflicting demands of career and family (Polka, Litchka & Davis, 2008). In the same study, obtaining the support of family was identified as one of the top 10 most effective strategies for females in attaining the school superintendent position (Polka, Litchka & Davis, 2008). With the rarity of female superintendents available to share their own success stories (Lather, 1992), the female superintendents who participated in this study had few role models to ask how to best balance work and family. Importance of spirituality also appeared as a major theme in the findings. The participants shared how belief in God or a higher power helped them on their journey as superintendents. This finding confirmed Reed and Patterson’s (2007) research that determined spiritual support was an important attribute of resilient female superintendents. In a case study of a first-year female superintendent, Bogotch (1995) found that church and faith were identified as important. Shakeshaft, Brown, Irby, Grogan, and Ballenger (2007) found that the female administrators in their study acknowledged the importance of spirituality for success in educational leadership. For the female superintendents in this study, spirituality was identified as instrumental in helping them to overcome barriers and make sound decisions. One of the most significant themes that developed was positive relationships with other superintendents. All of the participants in this study spoke highly of the male and female superintendents who mentored them as they aspired to become superintendents and those who continued to mentor them once they became superintendents. Much of the existing research is in agreement that to be successful, female superintendents must ―participate in mentoring and coaching relationships from others who understand their uniqueness regardless of ethnic or racial identity‖ (Campbell-Jones & Avelar-Lasalle, 2000, p. 17). Researchers have identified the importance of mentors for females aspiring to the superintendency and for females currently serving in the superintendency (Eagly & Carli, 2007; Garn & Brown, 2008; Gupton & Slick, 1996; Hoff & Mitchell, 2008; Marshall & Kasten, 1994; Miller, Washington, & Fiene, 2006;eed & Patterson, 2007; Sanchez & Thornton, 2010). Shakeshaft et al. (2007) cited too few mentors and lack of mentors, networks, and sponsors as barriers for women aspiring to access school leadership positions. According to Banuelos (2008), ―Mentorships could be effective for women’s unique issues and could be critical for the well-being of superintendents and the districts they lead‖ (p. 30). In a study of mentoring the first-year superintendent in Texas public schools, novice superintendents identified the following mentor characteristics for a positive effect on job success: trustworthiness, confidentiality, empathy, encouragement, active listening, and integrity (McNulty, 2002). Women who have a mentor have a better chance of accessing and succeeding in the school superintendent position (Sanchez & Thornton, 2010; Shakeshaft, 1989). This study supports this notion because all three female superintendents acknowledged the positive contributions of their mentors, role models, and other support groups.


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