Rachel Roberts image green dress with a scarf

GSLC Alumna Publishes Dissertation on Experiences of Women as They Seek Superintendency

Dr. Rachel Roberts, PhD in Leadership and Change alumna, published her dissertation entitled, Women Seeking the Public School Superintendency: Navigating the Gendered and Racialized-Gendered Job Search. Roberts has been an educator for her entire career. First, as a teacher and over the last decade as a school administrator. During her tenure, she continually noticed the underrepresentation of women in the highest office: the school superintendent. She devoted her research to unearthing the inequalities and disproportional realities that exist within high-profile leadership, particularly the public school superintendency.

Utilizing a grounded theory approach, Roberts sought to better understand what happens at the micro-level, especially during and after the superintendent search and selection process, for women who successfully land a final round interview, but ultimately are not selected for the position. More often than not, women are quick to make the shortlist of finalists, and as nearly 74% of all superintendents are male, yet only rarely get offered the position. Roberts reveals a navigational journey riddled with gendered and racialized-gendered experiences rife with barriers for the women who strive for the position. Despite these difficult and challenging obstacles, Roberts found strength, resilience, and fortitude within the data and the following dimensions: navigating gendered and racialized-gendered experiences, living my core, drifting from self, The Big Kaboom, and finding peace.

Roberts started her career as an early childhood educator in Northern Michigan and is a former Head Start program teacher. In 2009, Dr. Roberts was appointed as a National Head Start Fellow, a prestigious and competitive federal fellowship program in Washington, D.C. She served the students and families of the District of Columbia Public Schools, through early childhood teacher effectiveness programming from the district office and as an assistant principal at Tyler Elementary on Capitol Hill, a dual-language Spanish immersion elementary school. In 2015, Roberts transitioned to her role as principal in Brevard County, Florida. She moved Odyssey Prep Elementary from a state accountability rating of “F” to “B” and Columbia Elementary from a “D” rating to a high-performing “B” rating. Both turnaround efforts earned her the accolades of finalist for BPS Principal of the Year in 2020, and the 2022 Florida Tax Watch Principal of the Year award. She currently serves as Director of Elementary Leading and Learning for Brevard Public Schools and is a passionate advocate for school leadership, especially women in leadership.

Read more about Dr. Roberts and her dissertation here.