The issue of gender disparities has captured the attention of the entire globe since the mid-20th Century. Theories and strategies have been propounded directed at addressing the issue (gender differences). As engines of development, institutions have been the first target where these strategies are put into praxis. Institutions international, national and local are encouraged to adopt gender mainstreaming principles. Against the above, institutions seem to be perpetuating gender differences even more. This study is about the gender gap in leadership positions at South African schools. While a lot has been written on gender and leadership, the study focused on hearing the perspectives of women teachers.
The aim was to understand the women and promotability question from the women teachers’ own terms. The study adopted a qualitative approach to explore the views of women teachers in rural South African schools. This was done through a single case study where women teachers in four schools in Nkomazi in Ehlanzeni District were studied. To capture the voices of the teachers, the study adopted an approach that was grounded in long-term research that involves sustained engagement in the lives of the women teachers. The study started by understanding the context under which the women teachers operate, before exploring their views on the gender and promotability question.
Contrary to expectations, the study offered a different perspective from the popular narrative on gender, work place and promotability. It showed that the women teachers did not see themselves as victims or disadvantaged. The women teacher knew and understood the gender reforms that were instituted in post-apartheid South Africa and how these had changed their situation. They also understood that it would be difficult to close the gender gap in school leadership positions because of the social circumstances. However, they maintained that these circumstances did not disadvantage them into leadership position. The women particularly raised the issue of agency, which has been overlooked in the promotability question. The study emphasized that the women had qualifications to be school principal and could be principals if they so wished, but there was an element of choice. The study concluded that the voices of women are important if the gender and promotability question is to be addressed. Why some women opt against being school principals can only be understood from the women themselves, and their perspectives are key for gender policy.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2019.