The Implications of Increased Female Representation on Iowa School Boards for Educational Policy Making
Andersen, Thomas A.
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The Problem. The purpose of the study was to compare the backgrounds, motivation for candidacy, governance styles and priorities of male and female school board members, and from this comparison determine the implications of increased female membership for educational policy making. Procedures. A questionnaire was designed to secure information on the backgrounds, motivation for candidacy, governance styles and priorities of randomly selected Iowa school board members. Comparisons of data were reported by percentages and chi-square analysis was applied by gender on each sub-variable studied. Findings. There were significant differences in the backgrounds, motivation for candidacy, governance styles and priorities of male and female school board members. Background differences were in the areas of employment status, occupation, parental status, marital status and district size. Females were motivated by more specific education-related concerns, while males were motivated by general community concerns. Their candidacies were supported by very different kinds of groups. Females took a more active approach to policy making and brought strength to the areas of curriculum, communications with constituents, student concerns and policy development. Males took a more passive approach to policy making and brought strength to the areas of finance, plant management, transportation and management skills. Conclusion. Male and female school board members bring unique strengths and weaknesses to school boards which complement one another. School boards are more apt to carry out the their policy-making responsibilities more effectively and more comprehensively when both females and males are represented. Recommendations. School districts should more actively seek out and encourage female school board candidates. In districts where the board is primarily male or female, superintendents should take safe guards to insure that boards give adequate attention to all areas of policy making from finance to curriculum. Efforts should be made to provide human relations training for superintendents and board members to help them better understand gender similarities and differences and promote cross-gender understanding and cooperation. There is a need for greater emphasis in the preparation of superintendents related to policy writing and management, instructional and curriculum leadership, public relations, administrator-board relations and school board meeting management. These are areas where female board members demand greater accountability.