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Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume III, Issue 1 2014

Lean In Through Texas Council of Women School Executives Dr. Cheryl Kelsey Dr. Patti Birney

Abstract This study combines a brief review of Sheryl Sandberg’s, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013)” from which JTWSE designed survey research for the TCWSE members. The data from the survey provides important insight and understanding into the experiences and beliefs of Texas women school executives. In Sheryl Sandberg’s best- selling book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013), she examines women’s progress in achieving leadership roles and offers solutions to empower women to achieve their full potential. Sandberg, as the chief operating officer of Facebook, ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, is well qualified to encourage women to not hold back by using data, research and anecdotes as an inspiring call to action for women. According to Sandberg (2013), there are things women can do to overcome gender stereotypes, corporate structures, and sexism that may undermine a woman’s ambition. Women must “lean in” to their career rather than sitting demurely at meetings, not applying for promotions, or easing up when their children come along (Sandberg, 2013). She advises women to speak up, negotiate their salaries, ask for promotions, and look for a partner willing to help with childrearing, plan their careers, and set boundaries so as to have a life outside of work (Sandberg, 2013). With a focus on the mission of the Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE), a qualitative survey was developed based on key points in Sandberg’s book as a way to promote renewal, mentoring, and career advancement support. Survey questions were designed to identify the thoughts and behaviors of successful female school executives in Texas. Responses were anonymous and based on lived experiences of being an educational leader. Of the 110 respondents, 18% were superintendents, 45% were central office administrators, 25% were campus administrators, 18% were university professors,10% were teachers, 2% were business leaders, 10% were educational consultants, 6% were Educational Service Center or Texas Education Agency professionals, and 6% were other. The majority of the women (74%) that responded to the survey had 20 or more years’ experience in schools and shared their experiences in order to help others achieve their potential. Though women have made great strides, qualified women are underrepresented in school administration in Texas, even though they fill the majority of elementary and secondary teaching positions. To better understand the career paths and perceptions of gender factors that affect advancement in school executives, recurrent themes were derived within the context of each 49

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JTWSE—Volume 3  

JTWSE—Volume 3  

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