Book Review

Women in the Superintendency: Discarded Leadership

by Joyce A. Dana and Diana M. Bourisaw, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., published jointly with AASA, 2006, 249 pp. with index, $34.95 softcover

Fewer than 15 percent of the nation’s superintendents today are women. Joyce Dana and Diana Bourisaw, both ex-superintendents, conclude in their book Women in the Superintendency: Discarded Leadership that being female is a definite barrier to becoming a superintendent.

The book examines gender discrimination and the need to change societal behaviors, attitudes and practices regarding women in leadership positions. Drawing on the stories of 25 present and former superintendents, coupled with research-based literature, the authors illustrate the day-to-day challenges for women serving as superintendents as well as those confronted by people who aspire to this position.

Using a textbook-style approach, Dana and Bourisaw present a case study in each chapter followed by questions for discussion that link real-life situations with key concepts. The last section of the book features tips for women interviewing for superintendent positions, advice for new superintendents on constructing entry-level plans and strategies for current superintendents to ensure career longevity. The authors even offer suggestions to those facing dismissal on how to survive and move forward in their career.

This book could be useful to an array of readers: educators aspiring to leadership positions as well as current superintendents, board of education members, superintendent search consultants and educational administration professors.

Reviewed by Diane E. Reed, associate professor and interim co-director, educational leadership program, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, N.Y.