Tracing the pathways: Exploring the journey of women primary school head teacher incharge teacher

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Through a life history approach, this study explores the experiences of two Pakistani women educational leaders, one becoming a primary school head teacher and the other primary school in-charge teacher in two different school systems. At an international level, there is an increasing awareness of gender issues in education, particularly in the area of educational leadership and management, where women are under-represented. While efforts are being taken to increase the presence of women in leadership, their leadership experiences remain largely invisible and ignored. Findings of the study show that gender has shaped these women educational leaders' personal and professional lives. Parents, especially fathers, play a dominant role in these women's gender identity construction and decisions regarding their entry into educational leadership and their perceptions of themselves as leaders. Although education was valued by their parents, socio-cultural norms and gender beliefs led to their fathers' arranging their daughters' early marriages, thereby limiting their eventual career choices. Their mothers also conveyed powerful but contradictory messages to these women, both supporting their education and preparing them for domesticity. Their mother's subordinate role in the family also led the participants to believe that being a woman means to sacrifice or compromise. School-gendered spaces have facilitated the development of leadership skills and access to female role models but raise the question of limiting their career opportunities. Within the marital family, financial issues, access to female mentors, supportive husbands, access to education as well as their own will have also played important roles in the women's experiences becoming leaders. Their life histories depict that despite all the challenges, these women leaders have experienced in their journey to leadership, they are able to draw on their diverse gender experiences, which include the values of caring, nurturing and having sound organizational skills to provide effective leadership. This study, therefore, calls for the need to include women's voice in leadership to the further knowledge base in the area and to challenge current gender structures in order to pave the way for more women into the field of educational leadership.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library