- Women and Educational Leadership
The book Women and Educational Leadership by Margaret Grogan and Charol Shakeshaft is a contemporary work written to explain a pattern of leadership characteristics that the authors observed throughout their previous research. In addition to the five characteristics described, the authors discuss the issue of women in educational leadership positions and their underrepresentation in them.
Purpose, Content, and Structure
Women and Educational Leadership contains a foreword written by the 2009 National Superintendent of the Year, Beverly Hall. In addition, the authors have written an introduction and a total of five chapters along with a conclusion, a reference section, and an index. At the end of each chapter, there are vignettes featuring issues that women in leadership positions could potentially face and also a number of discussion questions regarding the chapter's information.
For about twenty years, both Grogan and Shakeshaft studied the leadership roles women take in education. They had previously worked together, along with a few other authors, to write a chapter for the book Handbook for Achieving Gender Equity Through Education focusing on women principals and superintendents. After reviewing all of the literature for that work, they recognized that there are distinct patterns in the ways women lead their schools and their districts. When [End Page 80] approached to write this book, the authors used the knowledge they had gained from all of their previous studies to create a comprehensive guide for their findings.
Chapter 1, "Five Ways Women Lead," describes the pattern of leadership characteristics that the authors observed throughout their previous research. The five themes the authors describe are relational leadership, leadership for social justice, leadership for learning, spiritual leadership, and balanced leadership. Each leadership approach is described in detail through research information and through examples of them in action. I will further discuss, in detail, these five themes in the next section of this critique.
Chapter 2, "Our Status: Women School Administrators," focuses on the issue of women in educational leadership positions and their underrepresentation in them. To illustrate this point, the authors explain, "Documenting female representation in the superintendency continues to be imprecise, and at the average annual increase of 0.7 percent, it will take another seventy-seven years for women to be proportionally represented" (29). Also featured in this chapter is a short history of gender and school leadership research, as well as three tables featuring statistics from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education that depict percentages of women in educational positions.
Chapter 3, "A New Way: Diverse Collective Leadership," connects the five themes discussed in the first chapter to the idea that women's leadership is collaborative in nature. The authors describe this point when they say, "Encouraged by the evidence we have found in the research on women in educational leadership, in this chapter, we offer some ways to reconceptualize the work of leadership to engage the collective voice and to challenge the status quo in the name of equity and diversity" (41). Communication, association, collaboration, and cognitive shifts are the major discussion points in this chapter.
In chapter 4, "A Closer Look at Collective Leadership in Practice," the authors describe collective leadership in great detail. They explain that collective leadership needs to be stimulated and nurtured by input, dissent, feedback, and ideas from both internal and external constituents in order for it to exist and flourish. They expound upon the concepts of integration with new or existing ideas and working with and through others to achieve goals, a concept they entitle "cognitive shifts." Also included in this chapter is the discussion of "school as a social movement." The authors explain, "We were inspired to coin this new metaphor for schools by three particular themes emerging from the analysis of women leaders in education: relational leadership, social justice leadership, and leadership for learning. This metaphor combines women's respect for working ethically with and through others and their passion for increasing the learning of children the system has failed" (75). [End Page...