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Study Notes

Agyeiwaa R. and Attom L. E. ‘Gendered Perceptions and Challenges Facing Females in Educational Leadership Positions’ (2018)


Last updated 18 Sept 2020

This is an overview of a contemporary piece of sociological research

Brief summary of research methods:

  • Cross-cultural example focussing on the gendered perceptions of female leaders and the challenges facing them in educational leadership positions in Ghana.
  • Qualitative research, case study design
  • Study is relevant to the educational leaders in the Sunyani West district
  • 20 participants: heads of senior high schools, departmental heads, senior housemistresses and female circuit supervisors were purposively sampled
  • Interviews and observational methods were used for data collection
  • Triangulation was used to test consistency of findings
  • Qualitative data acquired was analysed thematically

Key findings:

  • Family factors and traditional male/female power relations pose serious challenges to female leaders in educational settings. Women often have to prove themselves as worthy of the leadership role to male subordinates and some male colleagues struggle to accept and trust female leadership.
  • Women viewed leadership as an opportunity to make an impact in a traditionally male-dominated context.
  • Cultural expectations of women serve as a barrier to female leaders as they are first and foremost perceived as mothers, wives and daughters.
  • Women with family responsibilities often struggled to balance all their duties and roles.
  • Negative self-judgement and self-perception result in feelings of inadequacy and incompetency.

Link to specification:

Link to Families and Households:

  • This research links well to the concept of ‘triple shift’ whereby women are expected to carry out domestic, paid and emotional labour. The findings highlight that cultural expectations persist, and women are expected to carry out these responsibilities and compromise on their employment responsibilities rather than household duties.
  • It can also be argued that in this context, women are also expected to carry out emotional labour within the workplace so as to ‘ease’ male colleagues who are uncomfortable with female leadership.

Link to Work, Poverty and Welfare:

  • Some feminists could argue that this is a good example of women ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ as they are acquiring positions of power and leadership despite the cultural stigma or challenges that they may face.
  • Whilst equal opportunities in the workplace and labour laws exist to prevent discrimination, in many communities women being in the workplace, and particularly occupying senior positions, remains unconventional.

Link to Education:

  • Although pupils, particularly female pupils, benefit from positive female teacher role models and are inspired by female leadership, the women themselves often struggle to achieve that position and are not always supported by their families or communities.
  • Female leaders in education seek to make a positive impact and improve the conditions of the people within the education.

Link to Global Development

  • A good example of women being more marginalised in developing countries, but also of them overcoming this.

Link to original article:

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