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ERIC Number: ED412615
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Sep
Pages: 45
Abstractor: N/A
Searching the Silent Smiles of Women Superintendents: Did You Say Something?
Brunner, C. Cryss
While numerous feminist scholars have written about "silence," few have focused on the silence of women in powerful masculinized positions such as the superintendency. The purpose of the paper is to expose the silencing, the disallowing of voice in actual practice, or the "unnatural silence" (Olsen 1978) of women superintendents through a postpositivist qualitative examination of their talk. Data were gathered through interviews conducted with 13 women superintendents and with 2 people who had professional relationships with each of them (n=26), for a total of 39 interview respondents. The findings show that unnatural silence was a consistent counterpart to the women's experiences of voice. Further, all categories of settled talk (voice) found the women framing their experiences well within the traditional normative rules governing the behavior of women in our culture. When the women broke the rules they faced negative consequences. The categorization of unsettled and settled talk created a disturbance in what has traditionally been the settled rhetoric of educational administration. In the past, settled talk included: (1) power as dominance; (2) listening; (3) a masculine approach; (4) use of mouthpieces; and (5) being verbally responsible. The study found that two new configurations of settled and unsettled talk emerged from the narratives of women superintendents. With the current shift in the literature toward the valuing of shared, collaborative leadership, an opportunity for the reshaped-settled talk has emerged. A "soft" leadership approach, the notion of caring, and shared leadership are now accepted practices. One figure is included. (Contains 6 endnotes and 82 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A