Book Reviews

Succeeding as a Female Superintendent: How to Get There and Stay There

by Suzanne L. Gilmour and Mary P. Kinsella, Rowman and Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2008, 167 pp., $27.95 softcover

Based largely on the experiences of the authors, Suzanne L. Gilmour and Mary P. Kinsella, Succeeding as a Female Superintendent shares lessons on leadership equally applicable to men and women.

Gilmour and Kinsella supplemented their own experiences with findings from extensive interviews of practicing female superintendents across New York state.


The strengths of the book are its focus on preparing for the job of superintendent, getting the job of superintendent and keeping the job once selected. Several times in each chapter, the important points are re-emphasized in a feature titled “In a Nutshell.” The book stresses the need to find the right fit, matching one’s personality, style and attributes to a school system and board of education.

One interesting aspect discusses the need for journaling and self-reflection. Reflecting at the end of each day allows one to calm down, evaluate the accomplishments and setbacks of the day, and consider how to improve one’s professional knowledge, skills and dispositions. Over time, a journal will document accomplishments and provide evidence of professional growth.

I would have preferred to see a chapter or two devoted to particular problems encountered by female candidates and by candidates of diversity.

Reviewed by Paul A. Shaw, superintendent, White County Schools, Cleveland, Ga.