Pennsylvania superintendents: By the numbers

  • Ed Mahon/PA Post

Women are a lot less likely than men to lead school districts in Pennsylvania.  

But those women who do hold the superintendent job tend to earn a little more than their male counterparts.

That’s according to a PA Post analysis of salary records for the leaders of 490 Pennsylvania school districts. The figures include acting and substitute superintendents in 2017-18. But even if you take those positions out of the mix, the results are similar or identical.

Of those 490 superintendents:

  • 352 were men. That’s 72 percent.
  • 138 were women. That’s 28 percent.

The median salary was:

  • $137,000 for the male superintendents.
  • $139,525 for the female superintendents.

When it comes to experience:

  • The median male superintendent had 24.5 years of experience in education.
  • The median female superintendent had 25 years of experience in education.

And when it comes to education levels, women were more likely to have a doctoral degree:

  • About 65 percent of the female superintendents had a doctoral degree.
  • About 48 percent of male superintendents had a doctoral degree.

The size of the school districts was similar for both men and women.

  • The median male superintendent led a district with 2,044 students.
  • The median female superintendent led a district with 2,034 students.

And women tended to earn more even when you adjust for the different population sizes of districts.

  • The median male superintendent earned $65.91 for every student in his district.
  • The median female superintendent earned $68.55 for every student in her district.

Which counties have the highest percentage of female superintendents?

In 11 counties, there were either more female than male superintendents or an equal amount.  Most of them are smaller counties. You can see more information in the interactive map below.

Red = No female superintendents

Gray = Some female superintendents, but less than half the superintendents in a county were women.

Black = Half the superintendents or more in a county were women.

How does Pennsylvania compare nationally?

Nationwide, about 23 percent of superintendents are women, according to a 2017-18 survey by AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

Women are more likely than men to work in public schools in Pennsylvania. But they are less likely to lead school districts.

  • Statewide, about 73 percent of classroom teachers in public schools were women. 
  • Nearly 50 percent of public school administrators were women. 
  • But only 28 percent of school district superintendents were women.


About our analysis

There are 500 school districts in the state. Students in one of them — Bryn Athyn in Montgomery County — attend school elsewhere and there’s no superintendent. Superintendents in three other districts were listed as part time in the Pennsylvania Department of Education records. We also excluded superintendents if their salary was listed at $12,000 or below, or the job wasn’t listed as their primary assignment. But if you include those leaders in the analysis, the total results are similar.

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