Purpose – This paper aims to present some of the persistent gender issues that cause inequities in teachers' professional development and keep women away from reaching higher levels of educational administration, although they are the majority of teaching personnel. The interest seeks to focus on the under‐representation of female teachers in leadership positions and to argue on the barriers which stall female advancement and exclude women from the main “leadership pipeline”. The basic rationale is that women's role is crucial in order to face the new demands of school in a dramatically changing society carrying out a different style of leadership. Design/methodology/approach – The original study, conducted in 2009, examined in depth the professional experiences of 20 male and 20 female primary principals from schools located in different districts of the Greek continent. Open‐ended and semi‐structured interviews were used to guide the original research. Similar to Skrla's study, all participants were provided with opportunities to reflect on their experiences as primary school leaders and questions where they talk openly about them. Two research instruments were designed to examine the leadership attitudes of both women and men primary school principals. The first was a demographic questionnaire. The second method of investigation was an in‐depth interview with a smaller group selected on the basis of their responses to the questionnaire. In the interviews participants were asked 14 questions concerning the above central themes and a further set of questions that appertained specifically to their role both at home and at school. The interviews were subsequently transcribed and analyzed according to Giorgi's method. Findings – The literature points to a great number of factors which may influence women to remain in the classroom situation rather than seek promotion but few of these were reported in the data as being of powerful influence. However, several factors were identified as being very important to women: women usually became teachers because they liked working with children and to lose contact with this group was seen as a strong disincentive to seeking promotion; many women are very attracted to the social aspects of their work and would not choose to place themselves in a work situation where they would be unhappy; women's promotional chances are usually diminished by three main extrinsic factors: many have a break in service and may experience difficulty in gaining re‐entry, many women work either part‐time or have difficulty in gaining scale post status and as a result do not have the necessary experience to gain promotion, and family commitments sometimes make it difficult, and supply teachers are not generally eligible for this training. Furthermore, subordinates tend to view females in senior positions as emotional, sensitive and indecisive when they are facing difficult situations, and finally, women still face stereotypes concerning their management abilities, with the most important being the imposition of themselves. Originality/value – The present paper reviews literature on gender and leadership and recent quantitative data presenting the proportion of women and men holding leadership positions in primary education in Greece.
International Journal of Educational Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 17, 2012
Keywords: Primary school leadership; Gender equity in educational management; Women leadership; Men leadership; Gender; Primary schools; Leadership; Greece
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