Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Edward Cox


South Carolina public school districts are confronted with a series of difficult circumstances and rely more on female superintendents than the national average. The investigation of female South Carolina superintendents was guided by the glass cliff conceptual framework. The glass cliff represents situations where females are promoted over males to risky or precarious leadership positions where the chance of failure is high

The purpose of this quantitative, non-experimental study was to examine the relationship between the sex of South Carolina public school superintendents to (a) self-reported transformational leadership behaviors and (b) select district indicators indicative of the difficult circumstances confronted by public school districts. The indicators selected for this study were the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) composite indices, identified priority schools, and school district poverty indices. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was selected to obtain self-reported transformational leadership behaviors.

Female South Carolina public school superintendents rated themselves higher on all transformational leadership MLQ subscales than did male South Carolina public school superintendents but not at significant levels. Female South Carolina public school superintendents had significantly lower ESEA composite indices than did male South Carolina public school superintendents. No significant difference was found for priority schools or poverty indices based on the sex of the superintendent. Implications and recommendations for future research are included.


© 2013, Blanche Boyd Bowles