- While the racial and ethnic diversity of districts in which superintendents work has increased in recent decades, new numbers from AASA, The School Superintendents Association, suggest the nation's superintendents are still overwhelmingly white and male despite gradual shifts in demographics.
- The percentage of female superintendents increased slightly in the past decade, from 24.1% in 2010 to 26.68% in 2020 — more than double the percentage of female superintendents documented in 2000 (13.1%).
- The number of superintendents of color is increasing much more slowly, with 8.6% of respondents identifying as superintendents of color in 2020, compared to 6% in 2010 and 5% in 2000. Of the relatively small percentage who are African American, Latinx or other minority group, nearly 42% are women.
"While the trends are headed in the right direction in education, the low proportion of women and individuals of color in the most powerful district position in education is still troubling," said Chris Tienken, the principal investigator on the study.
And though there is much work still left to do to diversify, Tienken pointed out the position of superintendent is much more diverse than its counterpart in the business world: The percentage of women and leaders of color in the top education leadership position is "well above" the 5.4% of S&P 500 companies led by a woman, the 5% of the Russell 3000 companies that have a woman in the top position, and the only four black CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies in 2019.
Principal leadership remains comparatively much more diverse in contrast, with women holding a majority of principal positions during the 2015-16 school year, according to the National Teacher and Principal Survey. The same survey found 22.2% of public school principal positions were held by people of color.
Still, both superintendent and principal leadership lags behind the public school student population, which is increasingly diverse.
While the last decade was expected to bring a substantial turnover of superintendents, with about half of survey respondents saying they planned to leave the profession, more superintendents (nearly 60%) said they plan to stay in the profession in the next five years.