Perceptions of women head teachers experiences of attending professional development programs

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


This study explores how public sector schools female head teachers experience in-service professional development programs to influence their professional and personal experiences. Under the qualitative research paradigm, two research participants were selected through purposive sampling. Semi-structured interviews, observations and reflective journal were used as tools for data collection. This study was conducted in two public AKU-IED co-operative schools in Karachi, Pakistan. Study findings show that attending professional development programs has influenced the women head teachers' personal and professional lives. Their journey of evolving as educational leaders, in context where educational leadership is primarily male-dominated has been greatly influenced by both their birth and marital families and also the school. Their commitment to enhance their practice by attending professional development programs to learn new skills and knowledge has equally been facilitated both by their families and school administration. Hence, they feel competent and confident in their leadership practices. Participating in professional development programs have enhanced their organizational skills as well as their abilities to be a role model and to create an environment where staff works as a team to improve student learning outcomes. Nevertheless, patriarchy directs women's lives and they have to negotiate multiple roles and responsibilities within the ascribed gender norms of the context. Their participation in professional development programs, while possible in most instances, has also been challenging. Their mobility, care giving and domestic tasks have made it challenging for them to fully participate in professional development programs. Whereas, predominantly mixed-sex groupins in professional development programs have been problematic for the women head teachers. Nevertheless, opportunities to network and learn from the best practices of other educational leaders have been important. The women head teachers have had to overcome resistance from stakeholders in their determination and commitment to implement new learning in order to bring about change at the school level. This study was justified the need to include women's voice in educational leadership to further the knowledge-base and to challenge gender structures to enable more women to enter into this field. In particular, it has been significant in bringing forward women educational leaders' experiences of professional development programs, an area of education which has gone largely unexamined in the Pakistani context.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library