Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


School administrators--Iowa--Psychology; School administrators' spouses--Iowa--Psychology; Stress (Psychology);


Fields (2005) reported stress on school administrators due to “uncontrollable demands on their time, the negative impact of the amount of time that the job required on their personal lives, their prospective staffs, and the amount of conflict encountered.” The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the impact of the lived experience of male public school administrators and their wives, specifically involving the experience of stress. Studies of crossover stress in relation to public school administration and their spouses have not been as plentiful as other service-oriented, high stress work domains, such as police officers, fire fighters, correctional workers, public accountants, etc. This qualitative study involved four semi-structured interviews with married couples in which the husband’s occupation is that of a public school administrator. Each of the couples were married at least two years prior to the husband’s entry into an administrative role. An autoethnographical account was also provided to normalize the experience and provide context for the research. All of the administrators interviewed indicated that the job was stressful, and that the stress had increased over the course of their career as the scope of their position grew. Although they typically tried not to involve their wives in the stresses of the job, stress and worry was expressed by each of the wives. Three major interconnected themes emerged from the data: (1) Family Sacrifice, (2) Public Perception, and (3) Social Isolation. This is an important topic given a 2012 study titled Principal Concerns: Iowa May Face Statewide Demand by Michael DeArmond and Monica Ouijdani, which suggested that within five years, just under half of principals in Iowa will be eligible for retirement. With the potential for such turnover in school leadership, prospective administrators must recognize the various life forces facing themselves, their spouses, and their families with the decision to make the career and life-altering move to enter the field. Implications are identified for educational leadership programs. According to Whitaker (1996) “educational administration programs need to fully prepare principals for the realities of the job” (p. 69). Further, a role is identified for professional organizations, such as the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), in providing support for the spouses of public school administrators.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Nicholas J. Pace, Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Rodney B. Dieser, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 146 pages)



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