Full Length Research Paper
Influence of social-cultural factors on gender imbalance in appointment of head teachers in mixed secondary schools in Vihiga district, Kenya Phanice Ingasia Chisikwa
St Ann Buyangu Girls High School, P.O. BOX 42 Gisambai, Kenya. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Accepted 15 November, 2010
Women are under-represented in school headship in many parts of the world. Social-cultural reasons have been used to explain this discrepancy, particularly in Western countries. In Vihiga District in the Republic of Kenya, the situation is that only 24% of head-teachers in mixed secondary schools were women. Social-cultural factors contributing to this scenario were unknown. A descriptive survey design was used to establish perceptions of stakeholders on social-cultural factors that influence gender imbalance in appointment of head teachers in mixed secondary schools in Vihiga District, Western Province, Kenya. The study involved 34 Head teachers, 34 Board of Governors Chairpersons, 34 Parent Teacher Association Chairpersons, 465 teachers (310 males and 155 females) and one District Quality Assurance and Standards Officer (DQASO). Questionnaire and In-depth interview were used to collect data .The study found out that school location, school leadership traditions, male dominance, dual role and spouse attitude were perceived as influences on gender imbalance in the appointment of head teachers. Based on the findings, it is recommended that improvement of infrastructure and accessibility of the upcoming schools should be done to attract and retain female head-teachers in these schools, communities should be sensitized on gender equality and to respect female head teachers and advocacy should be enhanced for the girl child education. Keywords: Social-cultural factors, Gender imbalance, Head teachers. INTRODUCTION In spite of the advances made in many areas of public service appointment in the past two decades, women still have a long way to go in order to participate on the same footing as men. Male colleagues heavily outnumber them. The global picture is one of men outnumbering women at about 20:1 at senior management level (Dines, 1993). One explanation might be that equality of opportunities goes unnoticed by decision makers, or is not an issue of concern, and is therefore not acted upon (Fiona, 1995). Some employers discriminate against women by refusing to hire them even when opportunities existed. Most employers preferred to hire men who had the necessary education and skills than women because they feared that the female employees would not concentrate on their jobs because of their family responsibilities thus woman ended up taking low paying jobs or being second in position to men in most secondary schools (Obonyo et al., 2005). American Association of school administration reported that where as in 1981-1982 some 25 percent of American school administrators were females by 19841985 the figure had raised to only 26 percent. Moreover, the higher the administrative position the lower the proportion of women being appointed (Owen, 1991). Edson (1998) conducted a nation wide study in which she followed for a period of 5 years the careers of 142 women who wanted to get into educational administration. Her conclusion from the research was that some women have high aspirations for administrative work but their enrollments in preparatory courses were soaring. She also found out that the attitude of administrators towards women who wished to become administrators was becoming more supportive and helpful, for many women in the study credited them for initiating their interest, being helpful and being their mentors. Featherman cited in Dines (1993) noted that women still carried the burden of domestic responsibility and planned their own...