Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 External Career Barriers One study from 1999 provides a foundation for understanding a classification of barriers. Kowalski and Stouder (1999) explored career barriers experienced by women superintendents, investigating personal characteristics central to women reaching the top leadership role in school districts and their perceptions of career barriers. In their study, the researchers categorized perceived barriers either as internal or external barriers. Internal barriers were attributed to the individual and included lack of self-confidence and lack of tenacity. External barriers were attributed to family, institutions, or society and included lack of family support, lack of collegial support, lack of employment opportunity, gender discrimination, family responsibilities, and race/ethnic discrimination. Additionally, Kowalski and Stouder (1999) noted that gender discrimination might manifest in covert acts, either at the institution or individual level, and were often unidentifiable. For this reason, study participants were unable to articulate experiences related to covert discrimination.
Using qualitative methods, Kowalski and Stouder (1999) interviewed 13 women superintendents from Indiana. In the category of career barriers, the superintendents indicated that they experienced external barriers more frequently than internal barriers, and five superintendents indicated that gender discrimination was a barrier for them in obtaining their positions. When asked about the necessary personal characteristics needed for reaching the superintendent position, respondents rated quality and quantity of teaching experience, support of influential people, quantity of administrative experience, and personal appearance as most important. Interestingly, only one of the 13 participants indicated that being a woman was a positive characteristic in becoming a superintendent. The authors concluded that these superintendents appeared to have obtained their positions based on their established, positive work performances (Kowalski & Stouder, 1999). What can we learn from this study? These Indiana superintendents reported gender barriers in the 1990s, but did not allow these barriers to detract from their goals. From this study, we can conclude the following: 1. Hard work, dedication to the profession, and a positive performance record contributes to reaching the position of superintendent. 2. Having a strong mentor who supports, encourages, and protects women leaders from gender barriers that can impede their appointments to the top leadership positions is advantageous. 3. Personal characteristics such as confidence, tenacity, planning, and organizational skills attribute to the success of women superintendents. Barriers in Job Search Processes Using a large number of participants and multiple data collection methods over a two-year period, Tallerico (2000) conducted an extensive case study of superintendent search practices in the state of New York. The purpose of the qualitative study was to understand implications of superintendent search practices for women and people of color. Interviewed were 25 board 61