Women teachers' perceptions concerning career aspirations of the elementary principalship in selected schools in Texas



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Problem The purpose of the study was to determine the perceptions of women elementary teachers toward the elementary principalship as these perceptions reflected career aspirations. A review of the literature indicated that on national and state levels the number of women entering the elementary principalship was decreasing. Because of this continuing decline, the study sought to determine if women teachers who were aspiring and those who were not had significant relationships when the predictor variable, achievement motivation, was correlated with each of the twelve variables of managerial talent as measured by the Self-Description Inventory (S-DI) and with both variables measured by the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire - Ideal form (LBDQ). Procedures and Sample In an effort to discount discriminatory hiring practices and to account for female role model influences upon women teachers, it was necessary to choose school districts where a large number of women were employed as elementary principals. Aldine, Cypress-Fairbanks, and Spring Branch independent school districts in Harris County, Texas, had a total of 33 women elementary principals out of a possible 48. From a list of women-administered elementary schools, approximately one-half of the elementary schools in each district were drawn. From these schools, 15 women teachers were randomly selected and invited to participate in the study. Thus, the total population consisted of 270 women elementary teachers and 33 women elementary principals. Again by random procedure, 33 women teachers were drawn for each of the two teacher groups while the women elementary principals formed the third comparative group. Instrumentation The LBDQ-Ideal form, developed by the Personnel Research Board at Ohio State University in 1957, identified perceptions of an "ideal" female leader's behavior. The questionnaire consisted of 40 items which measured two dimensions of leader behavior - - initiating structure and consideration. The S-DI, developed by E. E. Ghiselli, examined traits and attitudes which played a part in managerial talent. This inventory of 64 pairs of adjectives, assessed and measured 13 different managerial traits. An aspiration scale served as a valid measure of career aspirations since it discriminated between those women elementary teachers who were and were not aspiring to the elementary principalship. Hypotheses and Treatment of Data Fourteen variables, twelve measured by the S-DI and two measured by the LBDQ, when correlated with the predictor variable, achievement motivation, formed the null hypotheses. Two statistical treatments, Pearson "r" and "Zr" transformations determined if the null hypotheses were rejected or accepted at the .05 level of significance on a two-tailed test. Additional treatments of the data. One Way Analysis of Variance and Duncan's Multiple-Range test, determined between which groups significant differences occurred on each variable.v Findings and Recommendations Women elementary principals and women elementary teachers do not perceive self-traits (S-DI) and leader behaviors (LBDQ) differently. Even though significant relationships were found within each comparative group, six null hypotheses, three of which were concerned with managerial talent, were rejected. An additional treatment of the data identified significant differences between groups on six variables, two of which contributed to managerial talent. These differences indicated that women elementary teachers who were not aspiring to the elementary principalship perceived self-traits differently from women elementary principals and teachers who were aspiring. Thus, the following specific conclusions were drawn from the data generated in the study: 1. Women elementary teachers' differences in career aspirations to the elementary principalship are attributable to differences in role expectations. 2. Women teachers' career aspirations are latent and occur at some point after they have experienced leadership roles. 3. School districts should seek to identify women elementary teachers who possess traits and leader behaviors which were identified in this study. 4. Traits and behaviors which have identified and are indicative of managerial talent and leader behaviors in this study, qualify women for still higher administrative positions. The lack of professional and occupational aspirations prevent the full utilization of women's potential in educational administration. Therefore, in light of the preceding conclusions, administrative personnel need to be more alert and aggressive in providing leadership situations and roles for women elementary teachers. When women teachers display leadership capabilities, they should be encouraged early in their teaching careers so that administrative career aspirations can be developed and nurtured. As school districts plan for future administrative positions, every effort should be made to provide for inservice training programs for the development of leadership abilities and managerial potentials in promising women and men. Finally, school districts should identify and promote women who have demonstrated qualifications, abilities, and potentials necessary for even higher administrative positions. Trends Several trends have emerged from this study: 1. Women elementary teachers who are aspiring to the elementary principalship are aspiring after fewer years of teaching experience. 2. Women elementary teachers in this study did not feel that family obligations, such as child rearing, were barriers to aspirations for administrative careers. 3. Encouragement on the part of immediate superiors on female role models was significant in women breaking the prevailing barriers to administrative careers.