Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Kristine Reed


Negotiation is a process wherein decisions are made between parties with different points of view and possibly conflicting interests (Caputo, 2019). Little is known about how women experience negotiation for salary and compensation. Studies associated with gender and negotiations have focused on the process or outcomes of the negotiation. While studies have identified a gender-based earnings gap, how women negotiate for compensation packages at the school superintendent level has not been studied. This qualitative Hermeneutical phenomenological study attempted to understand how female educational superintendents experience negotiations through description and meaning drawn from their lived experiences. By understanding how female school superintendents experience negotiations, this study fills a literature gap addressing women's experience in the negotiation process while allowing participants' voices, experiences, and insights to be heard. Eleven subjects participated in semi-structured interviews directed to a purposeful sample drawn from female educational superintendents in the Midwest. Responses were analyzed for themes, pared down to the essence of meaning, and viewed through the theoretical lens of social role theory and the conceptual framework of negotiation. Six themes emerged: I am a Woman in a Man’s World (Still), Negotiating for Myself is Uncomfortable, The School Board Holds the Cards, Experience and Salary Data are Key, Fairness is Important, and Female Leaders Need Support. Women serving in a traditionally male role calls attention to perceptions, appearance, gender, criticism, and relationships. Discomfort with negotiation addresses stereotypes, gender, and acknowledgment of resignations. School board relationships impact negotiation experiences. Experience and salary data highlight differences between the two states and can significantly impact negotiations through data availability and use. The concept of fairness is sought after in negotiations. Finally, participants recognize the value of support through mentoring and professional development. Elements of the social role theory are present in all six themes. Also, participants are drawing upon negotiation strategies. Opportunities for female superintendents to engage in discussions with peers, join intentional mentorship programs, and participate in professional development are necessary. The findings offer an understanding of female superintendents’ experiences of negotiations.

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership


compensation, female superintendents, gender, leadership, negotiations, salary

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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