Women in Leadership Roles

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This report examines the research on gender equity in educational leadership published since 1997until 2010. Even though women attaining jobs in school leadership has increased, women still do not fill administrative positions in comparison to men. The majority of research related to women and leadership examines the barriers women face in entering or moving up in the leadership hierarchy. Looking at the differences and similarities in how men and women take on and exercise leadership roles, the authors of the articles suggest ideas based on biological, psychological and sociological theories that stress gender difference. The article, “Re-thinking educational leadership: exploring the impact of cultural and belief systems” written by Shah, discusses how education and educational leadership theories and practices are influenced by culture and belief systems; with a focus on gender in Muslim societies. The first priority of Muslim women was to look after their family; therefore, before taking on any professional responsibility they had to ensure that no decisions or actions brought shame to their family or extended families. According to Shah, the Muslim women who participated in leadership positions often felt powerless because their decisions and actions were regularly scrutinized by men. The second article, “Gender Differences Among New Recruits to School Administration: Cautionary Footnotes to an Optimistic Tale” written by Riehl and Byrd discusses the factors affecting leadership among men and women in elementary and secondary education. Even though the women were as highly educated as the men, the men often were given many more opportunities. Women were still seen as displaying nurturing characteristics in their leadership style. The article also discusses women’s leadership aspirations to that of their male counterparts. The third article, “School leadership, sex and gender: welcome to difference” written by Kruger brings into light the biological differences in genetic make up of men and women. It discusses how different hormones and brain structure are the reasons for differences in behaviour and personality among men and women, which is considered a deciding factor in their leadership styles. Kruger also examines how the environment plays an important role in the realization of gender differences in leadership. The last article, “Gender and educational Leadership in England: a comparison of secondary headteachers’ views over time” written by Coleman discusses the expectations of women and men as principals in England in the 1990`s and in 2004. The article focuses on women with regards to work and personal life. Coleman reports that women have larger roles at work and at home, whereas men generally concern themselves with work only. Notably, women were seen as inferior so they adopted male work ethics. The results of Coleman’s studies are similar to those in other countries. It was very interesting to review the articles I chose to better understand the ways that educational leadership is perceived with respect to gender in the education system. As I continued to review the research, I thought it was of importance to examine the differing leadership styles and barriers, along with the similarities women faced in both western and non-western cultures. Throughout this inquiry I will cite several reasons for the low proportion of women as educational leaders. According to Shah, “Men and women are conceptually divided into two separate worlds. Home is defined as a woman’s legitimate ideological and physical space, while a man dominates the world outside the home” (p. 31). With the ever-changing society, Muslim women started exploring their options and took more of an active role outside the home. Interestingly, the women who attained positions of leadership worked in the women-only establishments. It was troublesome for a woman to work in a mixed gender environment because their...
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