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Why the mentoring of female educational leaders with an ethic of care matters

Date created: 
Educational leadership
Ethic of care theory
Educational administrative leadership
Female leadership
Moral education

The intent of this dissertation is to investigate how mentorship practices embodying an ethic of care can play a role in the recruitment and retention of female educational leaders into administrative roles in education. Through a critical review of Nel Noddings’ ethic of care theory and the concept of mentoring, associated as well as opposing or alternative theories are examined. By employing the methodological approach of autoethnography, the marriage of mentoring with an ethic of care can be studied in support of female educational leaders seeking ascension. An informal conceptual analysis of mentoring as well as Noddings’ ethic of care theory provide the framework for analyzing this study which spans both the public K-12 and post-secondary education sectors. Noddings’ ethic of care theory is the lens through which we may view the personal narratives for care or lack thereof, while informal mentorship is explored using autoethnography. Four components are critical to Noddings’ (2012b) care theory from the perspective of a moral education: “modeling, dialogue, practice, and confirmation” (p. 237). Through autoethnography, these components are considered with a focus on natural, relational caring in supporting a female educational leader’s quest towards educational administrative leadership. The findings illustrate that foundational to a female educational leader’s quest for ascension are identity development and dialogue, both of which play a key role in the development of the mutuality of relation. Additionally, through informal mentoring, a mutual relation between the one-caring and the cared-for serves to confirm the best self possible in the cared-for. Encouraging the development of the best self possible in the cared-for is the expression of Noddings’ moral objective. Because the moral objective of allowing natural caring to flourish between the cared-for and the one-caring in reaching the female educational leader’s best potentialities is important in building her capacity to ascend to educational administrative leadership, collaboration with a mentor is key to successfully transforming female educational leaders through ascension into educational administrative leadership roles.

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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Dan Laitsch
Charles Scott
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.