AN INTERSECTIONAL APPROACH TO PUBLIC SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: EMPLOYMENT PATTERNS AMONG PRINCIPALS IN MULTIETHNIC U. S. SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

Author:Zajicek, Anna
 
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INTRODUCTION

Representative bureaucracy scholars underscore the importance of diversity in leadership posts. They demonstrate that people of color operating either in the leadership positions or as street-level bureaucrats can influence or even create policy outcomes beneficial to the groups they represent (Breslin, et. al., 2017; Grissom, Kern, & Rodriguez, 2015; Sowa & Selden, 2003). Moreover, in recent years, social science and policy researchers have been called upon to overcome the historical segregation of race, gender, and class scholarship (Collins, 2007; Manuel, 2006; Simien & Hancock, 2011). Intersectionality, which most commonly examines how race, gender, and class simultaneously shape the experiences of groups marginalized by multiple factors, is critical to overcoming this segregation. Yet, with a few notable exceptions (Guy & Schumacher, 2009; Hsieh & Winslow, 2006; Riccucci, 2009; Sanchez-Hucles & Davis, 2010; Townsend-Bell, 2011; Wadsworth, 2011), public administration scholarship, including public leadership research, focuses on either gender or on race/ethnicity (Breslin, Pandey, & Riccucci, 2017). Although non-intersectional studies provide some insight into gendered and racialized patterns of public representation and leadership, an intersectional approach can provide deeper understanding of these patterns. As an analytic tool, intersectionality can be used to examine the barriers to leadership opportunities for people of color, barriers which remain largely invisible through traditional, single axis analysis (Breslin et.al., 2017).

The few existing intersectional studies of representation focus on elected positions in state legislatures (Darcy & Hadley, 1988; Esterchild, 2010; Hardy-Fanta, Lien, Pinderhughes, & Sierra, 2007), municipal governments (Miller, Kerr, & Reid, 2010), and school boards (Hardy-Fanta et al., 2007). Quantitative policy studies rarely use an explicitly intersectional perspective or establish whether intersectional locations matter (Breslin et al., 2017; Manuel, 2006). Yet, to move beyond theoretical models built from the experiences of the dominant group (Vinz & Doren, 2007), we must assess the usefulness of existing approaches in accounting for variations in representational patterns for intersectional groups (e.g., Black women, (3) White men) (Miller, Kerr, & Reid 2010).

A comparison of student and teacher populations shows a continued pattern of inequities (Sanchez, Thornton, & Usinger, 2009). While people of color constitute 40% of students, they only account for 16% of teachers and 17.6% of principals. In rural areas and small towns, students of color account for 26.7% of students, but people of color account for only 9.3% of teachers and 6.2% of principals. Although the overall representation of women in leadership and teaching positions has increased (Miller, Kerr, & Reid 2010), comparable information is missing regarding whether and to what extent this growth includes women of color. This is an important gap as scholars emphasize the importance of creating a more diverse workforce and a more equitable representation of women and men of color among administrators (Kerr, Kerr & Miller, 2014, p. 3).

To our knowledge, there are no intersectional studies that examine descriptive representation and the distribution of U. S. public school jobs, and only a few studies attend to gender or race (for exceptions see Kerr, Kerr & Miller, 2014; Kerr, Miller, Kerr, & Deshommes, 2016; Grogan, 1999; Reyes, Wagstaff, & Fuserelli, 1999). Moreover, intersectionality has not been broadly applied in quantitative studies of specific occupations (Price-Glynn & Rakovski, 2012). This study addresses these gaps. Using a 2008 data set (4) compiled from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Elementary-Secondary Staff Information, we ask: (1) What are the predictors of African-American, Latinix, and White women's and men's representation among school principals? And, (2) do the same or different factors predict the presence of racially/ethnically different groups of women (and men) in principal positions?

INTERSECTIONAL FRAMEWORK

The roots of the intersectional perspective go back the writings of the early Black intellectuals and scholars such as Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell (Murphy, Hunt, Zajicek, Norris & Hamilton, 2009). More recent intersectional scholarship dates back to the writings of Black women including (see, but not limited to, Collins, 1990; Crenshaw, 1991; Essed, 1991; Lorde, 1984). Extensive reviews of the intersectional perspective are already available (see Cho, Crenshaw, & McCall, 2013; McCall, 2005; Nash, 2008; Yuval-Davis, 2006), as is literature showing its usefulness for disciplinary fields, including public policy (Hankivsky & Cormier, 2011; Manuel, 2006), political science (Brown, 2014; Fraga, Martinez-Ebers, Lopez, & Ricardo, 2005), and public administration and leadership (Bearfield, 2009; Breslin et al., 2017; Rosette et al., 2016).

Regardless of a disciplinary field, intersectional scholarship emphasizes the importance of structural and institutional forms of discrimination (Browne & Misra, 2003; Cho et al., 2013). It calls for analyses that capture "macro axes of social power" as well as "organizational, intersubjective, experiential, and representational forms" of social divisions (Yuval-Davis, 2006, p. 198). With regard to leadership, intersectionality stresses that the history of segregation, discrimination, and privilege (Browne & Misra, 2003, Sokoloff, 1992; Weber, 2001); institutional biases (Rivera & Word, 2015); and categorizations of people by race/ethnicity and gender have created different penalties (Rosette et al., 2016) and barriers to attaining leadership positions (Rosette & Livingston, 2012; Smith, 2005). Organizational theorists have integrated intersectional perspectives (Acker, 2011; Britton & Logan, 2008; Essed, 1991) to show that organizational processes and structures are both gendered and racialized, leading to discriminatory cultures, workplace interactions, evaluations, and promotion procedures.

Building on Essed's (1991) work on the convergent and mutually constitutive nature of discrimination experienced by Black women in everyday life, which she calls "gendered racism," intersectional perspective provides two related concepts informing this study: gendered race/ethnicity and racialized gender (Choo & Ferree, 2010). The former concept conveys the idea that, as a result of broader institutional forces, racial/ethnic identities are gendered such that women and men of the same racial/ethnic group are likely to have different experiences; the latter acknowledges the possibility of racial/ethnic differences with the gender groups.

For instance, Montoya (2002) observes that the predictors of political participation for Mexican women and men tend to be more alike than those for Puerto Rican or Cuban women and men. Regarding patterns of participation, Brown (2014) concluded that although resources play an important role in women's political participation regardless of race/ethnicity, the specific predictors of political participation do not correlate with the participation of women of different racial/ethnic identities in the same ways. Esterchild (2010) suggests that patterns of racial/ethnic differences among women, as well as gender differences within each group, affirm "that many variables operate in different ways among different groups" (p. 143). She notes that in order to create more exhaustive intersectional analyses, comparing women across different racial/ethnic groups or gender within the same groups is not enough; instead, we need to account for differences among women and men both within and across intersectionally defined groups.

The current study addresses this call while focusing on predictors of gender-racial/ethnic representation in educational administration, and more specifically, school-level leadership.

Previous Studies of Bureaucratic Representation in Educational Administration

Scholars of bureaucratic representation often make a distinction between descriptive and substantive representation (Keiser, Wilkins, Meier, & Holland, 2002; Meier, 1993; Meier & Stewart, 1992; Meier, Stewart, & England, 1989; Pitkin, 1967), stating that the mere presence of a group in a bureaucratic structure (i.e., descriptive representation) does not necessarily lead to decisions that reflect its views and interests. Others note that descriptive representation does increase the likelihood that such decisions are made (Brown, 2012; Fraga et al., 2005; Miller, Kerr, Reid, & Edwards, 2008). Miller, Kerr, & Reid (2010) argue that the distinction between descriptive and substantive representation is less relevant to the distribution of public sector jobs, primarily because levels of representation can themselves be considered outcomes of bureaucratic activities. In the context of the long-standing tradition of descriptive representation research (Miller, Kerr, & Reid, 2010), what do we know about the internal/organizational and contextual/external predictors of descriptive leadership representation in educational settings?

In general, empirical research on women of color in educational leadership positions and in U.S. schools is lacking (Allen, Jacobson, and Lomotey, 1995, p. 409; Tilman, 2004). Almost two decades ago, Allen et al. (1995) noted the continued scarcity of research on Black women in educational administration and the tendency to see "their concerns in much the same manner as those of other women, most often Hispanics" (p. 409). Although there has been a resurgence of studies on White women and men of color, comparable studies of different groups of women of color are still rare in studies of administrators. Similarly, studies of public school jobs tend to focus on superintendents and teachers, leaving principalships relatively understudied (Papa, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2002; Papa Jr & Baxter...

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