The Fight Against Gender Barriers in Educational Leadership

March 13, 2024

Despite strides towards gender equality, women have long been underrepresented in educational leadership, facing systemic biases that hinder their advancement.

In this episode, School Superintendent Lisa Leali sheds light on the pervasive biases that continue to shape perceptions of women in leadership. She emphasized that while progress has been made, there is still much work to be done in dismantling the structural barriers that prevent women from ascending to positions of power and influence.

The road to leadership is often fraught with challenges, and for women, these challenges can be compounded by societal expectations and cultural norms. From implicit bias in hiring practices to the lack of representation in decision-making bodies, women face systemic hurdles at every turn.

In addition to advocating for systemic change, Lisa emphasizes the importance of mentorship and support networks for women in leadership. She believes that by lifting each other up and sharing our experiences, we can create a more supportive and empowering ecosystem for women leaders to thrive.

What actionable steps can we take to dismantle systemic biases and create more inclusive environments for women in educational leadership?

  • Building trust and collaboration are essential for navigating challenging situations.
  • Addressing achievement gaps and improving equity should be a priority in education.
  • Leaders should seek resources, learn from others, and create a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Barriers for women in leadership roles need to be addressed, and the selection process for superintendents should be reevaluated.

Dr. Lisa Leali has been Superintendent of Schools for Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 since July 2020. Dr. Leali has over 20 years of experience in public education and earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership in 2007 from Northeastern Illinois University and her doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2010 from National-Louis University.

Her dissertation was titled “Joyful Classrooms, Successful Kids: A study in the connection between joy and learning.” Leali has served as a consultant on standards-based reporting and writing instruction for school districts in Lake and Cook Counties, has presented regionally for the Illinois Association for Curriculum Development on data and assessment and has presented nationally on the topics of instructional coaching, district leadership and superintendent evaluation.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa Leali:

Lake Bluff School District 65 Website:

Become a Member


ALEP / Certificate Programs


Comprehensive industry education: ALEP and Advanced Certificate Program


Online Awards


Visit our showcase of past online entry submissions


LearningSCAPES 2024


October 16-19, 2024
Portland, OR