• by Linda Cantu, M.A. • IDRA Newsletter • March 1996 • Dr. Linda Cantu

Employment for men and women in the United States has traditionally been divided by gender. For the most part, men have dominated the fields of architecture, engineering, law and most areas of management and administration. Women, traditionally, are found in the “helping fields” such as nursing, social work and teaching.

Historically, there were occupations from which women were excluded because of their sex. The passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 outlawed discrimination in the area of sex:

“Title IX stipulates that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal assistance.”

In the 1990s, we know that males and females are found in all types of careers and all levels of management and administration, but, even today, men and women predominate in certain careers. Title IX has had a significant effect in creating opportunities for women in all areas, but particularly in the area of education.

Where We Have Been

Public education is one area where women can be found in large numbers. Overall, they have dominated the teaching profession. Still, they comprise only a small percentage of administrative and management positions in public schools in Texas. In the highest administrative position in public schools in Texas, that of superintendent, their representation has been minuscule.

Some facts about women and men in public schools in the 1980s include:

  • Women represented the major number of employees in public education in Texas. According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), of the 236,323 employees in public education in the state of Texas in 1985-86, 77 percent were women.
  • The majority of female teachers in public school were found in early childhood and elementary schools. TEA reports that, of the 83,028 teachers that made up pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and elementary schools, 92 percent were women in 1985-86.
  • A small number of men were employed in public education. Of those employed as teachers, most were found in secondary schools. Of the 236,323 employees found in public education in 1985-86, 23 percent were men. Of the 23 percent males who were working in public schools, 59 percent were found in secondary schools. Males made up 44 percent of all secondary teachers.
  • Most administrators in public education were male. All superintendents were male. Of the 13,611 administrators in public education, 71 percent were male. (Public school administrators include instructional officers, principals, assistant superintendents and superintendents.) Of the 1,039 superintendents in 1985-86, 98 percent were male.

Where We Are Now

Although, there have been changes for women in the area of leadership and management in public schools, what still holds true about public education is that, while women dominate the field, they hold few leadership positions.

Twenty-three years have transpired since the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act. Statistics for 1994-95 show that in the past 10 years there has been progress for women in the area of administrative and leadership positions in Texas public schools.

The number of women in public education in Texas has stayed relatively the same while the number of administrators has shown a significant increase.

In 1985-86, women comprised 77 percent of the public school workforce but only 29 percent of its leadership positions. In 1994-95, 76 percent of women constituted the workforce, and women held 45 percent of the administrative positions in Texas public schools.

For the superintendency, the top leadership position in Texas public schools, very little change has taken place. In 1985-86, 2 percent of the superintendents were female; in 1994-95, 7 percent of the superintendents were female.

In comparing 1994-95 statistics to the earlier figures about males and females in public education, most observations continue to be true. Women still dominate public schools and still make up the larger percentage of teachers and support staff positions. Males still dominate the highest leadership positions in public schools.

Optimistically, women represent almost half of all administrative positions in public schools in the state of Texas. It took 10 years for women to increase from 29 percent of administrative positions to 45 percent of administrative positions. Hopefully, by the new millennium – only five years away – women will also represent more of the superintendent positions in the state of Texas.

Linda Cantu is a research associate in the IDRA Division of Research and Evaluation. Comments and questions may be directed via e-mail to feedback@idra.org.

[©1996, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the March 1996 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]