Women in school leadership: Exploring gender experiences in becoming and being school leaders

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


International calls for gender equality and equity in every sphere of life and particularly, in education reflect the state of inequality and disparities in the world. In education, structures, processes and outcomes are unequal. Leadership and management in education is one area that glaringly shows this inequality, Not only are women underrepresented but their ways of working are unacknowledged and also not valued. For effective education based on justice equity and faimess, there is need to include women and women's ways of working in the discourse of leadership. Using a narrative inquiry approach, this study explored the ways in which women experienced gender in becoming and being school leaders. The study finds that the women experience their fathers’ support and encouragement in a predominantly patriarchal society which facilitates their entry into leadership. Mothers also provide the feminine qualities which the participants draw upon as a basis oftheir leadership values and practices. Schools as gendered spaces also enable the women to excel in all areas of life. However, going into teaching is a gendered choice to which the families push the women. Teaching seemingly is a feminized space while leadership in teaching is a gendered space for men. Therefore the women do not think they can take up school leadership until they are pushed by men. This shows the importance of mentoring in order for women to go into leadership. Being women, leadership also gives them a status and respect in a society that they feel has low status for women. However, the women also experience a myriad of challenges due to their gender. They experience role conflict and guilt due to their dual gendered responsibilities. They also experience rejection, physical and verbal threats, sexual harassment and loneliness as the woman in leadership. Drawing on their personal histories and experiences, the women take up the values gained and use them in their leadership. Their practices which are empowering, caring and student - focused, are emancipatory in nature. Thus, through their being leaders and ways of working, these women challenge masculinist hegemonic leadership constructs of effective schools.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library