Female superintendents’ perception of emotion and its impact on ethical decisions: a phenomenological study



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to understand the impact of emotion on the ethical decision-making of female superintendents. According to Cuban (2001) educational leaders encounter an abundance of complexities including many difficult, potentially explosive situations in which they must make ethical decisions. The study of superintendent perception on the emotional impact on ethical decision-making is incomplete without the consideration of female superintendents. This study added to the literature informing of the role of superintendent with specific attention to the female superintendent.
This study utilized observations, review of archival data, and semi-structured interviews, with a purposeful sample of ten female superintendents in mid-sized Texas school districts. Moustakas (1994) provided an outline and a model of the phenomenological methodology that the researcher followed. Using a phenomenological approach provided for understanding several individuals’ common experiences of a phenomenon that can culminate in developing practices, policies and greater understanding about the features of the phenomenon. There were three emergent themes supporting the evidence of emotion as an enveloping foundation in ethical decision-making by these female superintendents. These were: control by the female superintendent, communication as a requisite skill, and emotion tied to personnel decisions. This study adds to the body of knowledge regarding the ways in which emotion impacts decision-making. The results of this study may be applicable to female superintendent training and practice, as well as superintendent and board relations.



Female superintendent, Emotional decision making