Ordinariness of racism, socialization and the glass ceiling: Demographics, school climate, and attitudes impacting the appointments of African American heads of independent schools

Brenda L Profit, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This research focuses on the search and hiring processes of a set of 15 African American heads of National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) member schools with predominantly White student enrollments. Despite the increase in minority student enrollment and recruitment of teachers of color in NAIS schools, the Association has just begun to recognize and address the scarcity of appointments of underrepresented minority groups for the top administrative position of head of school. This exploratory study primarily seeks to understand particular considerations in the head recruitment and selection process as they relate to school and candidate demographics, the significances of attitudes about African American leadership during the search process, and the significance of school climate. A secondary goal is to illuminate the perceived influences of racism and prejudice in light of the historical limitations of occupational segregation and access to advancement for ethnic minorities in the educational workplace. The investigation uses a mixed methods approach, examining simultaneously the demographics during the head search, as well as the narrative reflections of the process shared by African American heads who represent less than 2% of top administrative leaders in NAIS schools. The guiding premise of this research is that without an understanding and awareness of particular assertions of Critical Race Theory, as well as the concepts of promotional socialization for ethnic minorities, independent school search committees cannot take full advantage of current opportunities to attract and hire qualified African American candidates for head of school. The conclusion of this study presents demographic factors and attitudes about hiring practices relative to race that create perceived barriers to the appointment of head of school. In addition, the analysis provides factors that may neutralize or mitigate such barriers in the future. The study provides an opportunity to understand the ways in which NAIS, search firms, and member schools can more effectively address the problem of low numbers of candidates and few appointments to the headship for African American administrators in predominantly White independent schools across the nation.

Subject Area

African Americans|School administration|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Profit, Brenda L, "Ordinariness of racism, socialization and the glass ceiling: Demographics, school climate, and attitudes impacting the appointments of African American heads of independent schools" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255860.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3255860

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