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Female secondary school leaders: at the helm of social justice, democratic schooling and equity

Anthony H. Normore (College of Education, California State University‐Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Gaetane Jean‐Marie (College of Education, University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this study is to explore the leadership experiences of four female secondary principals (two Black, two White) in one south‐western state to create significant discourse for understanding school leadership nested in complex social, political and cultural contexts. These women confronted education challenges of social justice, democracy, and equity in their schools.


The philosophical tradition of phenomenology was chosen as the qualitative methodology for this study “which is understood to be a concern for human meaning and ultimately for interpreting those meanings so that they inform our practice and our science”. As a secondary analysis of a specific finding (i.e. female leaders who exemplified a values‐orientation around issues of social justice in their leadership practices) from the original study the lived experiences of four female secondary school leaders were further explored.


All four women engaged in leadership praxis by: transforming school practices to promote equity and access for all students and embracing diversity of their student populations; connecting the world of research and practice; adopting democratic and participative leadership styles that relate to female values developed through socialization processes including building relationships, consensus building, power as influence, and working together for a common purpose.

Practical implications

While the focus is secondary school female leaders and educational leadership in a North American context, the implications have a broader transnational focus, exploring themes and issues that may span national boundaries and cultures.


For purposes of this article, the original data were revisited to conduct secondary analyses of the experiences of four women. Research contends that this approach can be used to generate new knowledge, new hypotheses, or support for existing theories; and that it allows wider use of data from rare or inaccessible respondents.



Normore, A.H. and Jean‐Marie, G. (2008), "Female secondary school leaders: at the helm of social justice, democratic schooling and equity", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 182-205.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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