Kimberly Clark

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education


Johnson, Ane


Educational leadership--Social aspects; Feminism


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


The purpose of this study was to better understand the role of gender performance for aspiring school leaders through a reflection of their journey through the administrative pipeline. The transformation of professional aspirations throughout and following the certification process and during employment was also analyzed. Finally, the appealing factors of a nontraditional administrative preparation program were evaluated to better understand the role of alternative licensure programs in advancing women school leaders. Using heuristic qualitative methods, 18 women graduates of New Jersey's Expedited Certification for Educational Leadership program participated in focus groups and 5 returned for individual interviews. Coding was employed to analyze the data collected while the theoretical concepts of gender performance, feminism, and critical social theory were used as lenses through which decisions and actions of participants were examined. The findings indicated that participants entered into school leadership as a result of an external catalyst, a mentor, which inspired a process of self-empowerment that lead to their pursuit of administrative certifications and positions. This process was cyclical and reproduced itself at every stage of career advancement. The nontraditional program and its appealing characteristics added to the realization of their current leadership positions. The findings also suggest that women school leaders fluctuate between gender roles dependent on their context with gender performance transformations evidenced episodically.