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Gender and educational leadership in England: a comparison of secondary headteachers' views over time

By Marianne Coleman


In the context of gender being a barrier to accessing leadership, this paper presents a comparison of the views of men and women head teacher (principals) of secondary schools in England in the 1990s and in 2004. The same survey instrument was used on both occasions. The perceptions of the head teachers show change in some areas and no change in others. Overall, women are more likely to become head teachers and are now less likely to be categorised into pastoral roles, but in some cases women still meet prejudice from governors and others in the wider community. Women head teachers are more likely to have partners and children than in the 1990s, sharing equally or carrying most of the domestic responsibilities, whereas male colleagues are most likely to have partners who take the majority of responsibility in the home. Essentialist stereotypes about women and men as leaders still prevail, although both the women and men head teachers see themselves as adopting a traditionally ‘feminine’ style of leadership. Women head teachers are likely to see some benefits in being a woman in a role stereotypically associated with men. However, there has been an increase in the proportion of women who feel that they have to prove their worth as a leader, and this may be linked with increased levels of accountability in schools

Year: 2007
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