Leadership against the odds: a case study of successful female leadership in Taita Taveta County, Kenya.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Mweru Mwingi

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Winston Massam


AKU-East Africa


The under-representation gap of women in educational leadership positions persistent and pervasive. The feminization of the teaching workforce has meant that women are overly represented in positions of less authoritywhile men continue to dominate decision making positions. This phenomenon has contributed to an imbalanceeducational l leadership but no one seems to pay attention to. A few scholars have over the years embarked to research on women in leadership with a bias on the challenges experienced by women and deficiencies of women school leaders.There has been expansive research on women in educational leadership but little prominence has been given to women leaders in developing countries.Women school leaders have continued to defy odds to establish a successful school. Successful school women leaders have to contend with opposition and rejection,discrimination and negative gender stereotyping that is as a result of socio-cultural factors. As a result,the ascension rate of women to power has been slowand has led to the lack of role models and mentors for the girls and young women aspiring to be leaders. Findings indicate that successful female principal used her womanly attributes of care, empathy and collaboration with parents and other stakeholders to enhance leadership success. This is a qualitative study that seeks to explore how a successful female principal experience leadership. The study is based on a narrative approach whichwas deemed the best method to explorehow successful female principals experience leadershipand thegendered experiencesof leadership. Purposeful sampling was used for the selection of the participants.Data were collected througha semi-structured interviewwith one female principal and three focus groups with the students, teachers and parents. The findings from the interview were triangulated and corroborated with the findings from the three focus group discussions. The finding indicates that the woman principalbased her leadership on values such as integrity, collaboration, trust, respect, care and empathy which positively changed the culture of the school.

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