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Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume II, Issue 1 2013 members, 25 members of search firms (i.e., recruiters), and 25 recent superintendent candidates; of these, 38 were women, 68 were White, and seven were African American. In addition to the interviews, Tallerico (2000) observed board meetings addressing the superintendent search efforts, meet-the-candidate sessions, and candidate forums. Further, a document analysis was performed with handouts, vacancy brochures, candidate applications, and community input surveys. Through the extensive data analysis process, Tallerico (2000) discovered a number of unwritten selection criteria. For example, board members were more likely to select candidates who most resembled themselves. Tallerico (2000) concluded that because a majority of consultants and board members are men, men candidates had an advantage based on this unwritten criterion. Second, board members described using gut feelings and the perceived chemistry between themselves and the candidates, which could increase the influence of subconscious bias. Consultants in the study reported that board members often selected a candidate based on personality and a perceived connection. Consultants and board members defined best-qualified candidates as those with specific job titles rather than demonstrated leadership skills. As such, Tallerico (2000) concluded that “narrow constructions of ideal prior experiences often determine which applicants� (p. 29) would be interviewed. For example, a greater number of participants who had reached the superintendent candidacy level were high school principals rather than elementary school principals. As such, the high school principal is more often a male-dominated role and the elementary principal is more often a female-dominated role. Consultants and board members tended to value line positions over staff positions and high school experience over elementary experience. To combat these gender biases, Tallerico (2000) suggested a need for school board training to raise awareness of diversity issues. Such training may also assist boards in hiring search firms whose members are ethnically and gender diverse and who understand the need for a diversity of thought when seeking potential superintendent candidates. What can we learn from this study? Tallerico (2000) uncovered many issues related to women’s access to the superintendency by identifying the unwritten criteria used by school boards and search firm consultants. Tallerico (2000) offered the following suggestions: 1. School boards should receive training to raise their awareness of factors that can limit selection of minority candidates. Moreover, school boards need to be trained in the selection of consultants who lead the search process. 2. Consultants should be asked about the demographics of the candidates they recruit and the methods they use to advertise the positions. 3. Finally, associations such as TCWSE and TASA should lead efforts to facilitate these types of training for both school boards and consultant groups.


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JTWSE—Volume 2  

JTWSE—Volume 2  

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