A Narrative Inquiry: Absence of Women in Educational Leadership A Canadian Perspective

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1 A Narrative Inquiry: Absence of Women in Educational Leadership A Canadian Perspective Janice L. Tucker Associate Professor Educational Leadership California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, CA Marian Fushell Instructor Faculty of Education Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John s, NL, Canada

2 Purpose To explore the career choices of female teachers following their M.Ed. program To determine reasons for the low participation of women in leadership

3

4

5 Newfoundland & Labrador Context In the 1990s, Recruitment challenges Lack of qualified leadership candidates Gender imbalance 1999 School district/university partnershipsgraduate programs Research study

6 Previous Research Study Tucker & Fushell (2013) Upon completion of the Master of Education program, Over 70% of the teachers indicated an interest in becoming a leader. Many teachers felt more confident in their profession. Many felt prepared to take on a leadership role in their school or school board. Fewer than one-third of the teachers are in a leadership position.

7 Gender Differences Males % of the educators 11% - executive positions or school principals % and 10.4% Females % of the educators 3% - executive positions or school principals % and 2.6%

8 WHY? This study sought to determine reasons for the low participation of women among school principals and in top senior positions at school districts in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

9 Theoretical Perspective This research is rooted in a combination of personal experience and academic discourse and as a knowledge worker both in a school district (practical) and university (academic), (Gunter, 2001, p.3). Any attempt to remain anonymous, to be neutral or to hide behind method is doomed to failure (Bourdieu, 1988) Critical opening spaces for dialogue (Alvesson & Willmott, 1996) Committed to action Narrative lens

10 Data Sources Teachers in the study Graduated with M.Ed. during Separated into male and female Proportionate number in teaching and leadership 15 teachers - 6 men, 9 women

11 Paths to Leadership Different paths to leadership Three different stories Adam's Jean s Elaine s

12 Findings Adam His goal: to be a high school principal 1 year teaching experience Offered an administrative position Initially no graduate degree Retrieved from homefixtures.blogspot.com

13 Closed doors all around me Jean Goal: to be a school principal 2 years as VP Did not get tenure Retrieved from violastea.com

14 Elaine 8 years to a principal s job 2 replacements as VP 2 probationary periods as VP Replacement as principal Long road many possibilities

15 Comparison Adam His goal Fast entry despite lack of experience & academic qualifications Secured position in competitive market upon 3 weeks of return Relocated to pursue job opportunities No mention of probationary contracts Plans to continue to move up Jean Her goal Demanding position Lost mentor No support Elaine Long, arduous journey No free passes Both Limited options Held to probationary contracts Paid all dues

16 What Shaped Their Decisions? Teacher Satisfaction Nature of the Position Positioning & Mentoring Opportunity

17 Teacher Satisfaction The program helped me to become a better teacher understand the variety of learning styles, and diversify our instruction. I have embraced it fully. Susan I m still a teacher and that s where I want to be. Kathy Some women do not apply for a principalship because they are content with their teaching and want to continue in that role rather than take on new responsibilities. Reynolds, 1999

18 Nature of the Position There are pieces of it that I think I would like, and maybe would like to do it. But then there s other times I look at her, you know,.. and that part of it kind of scares me, or, that kind of turns me away from wanting her job. Sandy Focus on managerial efficiency potentially at the expense of the core values of education including the focus on teaching and learning Blackmore, 1999; Gewirtz, 2002; Wallin, 2010 Increased demands of the work and the conflict with home priorities Collard & Reynolds, 2005; Thomson, 2009

19 Nature of the Position While Susan enjoyed the role of vice-principal she was convinced that her soft-hearted approach would make her unsuitable for the role that she understands to be that of an administrator. Resistance in examining maternal skills like nurturing, motivating and listening in school leadership. Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011 Women are not seen as real leaders ; emotional labour in schools is seen as women s work Blackmore, 1999

20 Positioning & Mentoring My goal has always been to be a high school principal. Adam Patricia did not see herself in an administration role because she was enjoying what she was doing in the classroom. Rules of control reinforce traditional spheres and maintain the status quo in leadership positions with men seen as the obvious leaders and with women positioned as the nurturing sex. Men are positioned to gain the skills, competencies and profile to become leaders. Reynolds,1995

21 Positioning & Mentoring Elaine had 17 years teaching experience and her Masters. Her path: Two VP replacement positions 2-yr probationary period as VP Principal replacement position 2-year probationary period as principal Tenure after 8 years in administration Women advance more slowly through the ranks and men are favored and mentored early in their careers more, while women are often overlooked as potential leaders. Thomson, 2009

22 Opportunity For Delores, because she teaches and lives in a rural community, leadership in another school would require her to move out of her area and so this is not an option. She grew up in the community and wants to stay there. There is a lack of opportunity to obtain leadership experience and bias in selection and appointment procedures. Thomson, 2009

23 Male Perspectives

24 Female Perspectives

25 Female Perspectives

26 Path to Leadership The path to leadership is complex and multilayered. The teachers reported that they are content in their positions and seem to be less interested in advancing yet almost all participants indicated that they would never say never, and if the right opportunity came along they would consider it.

27 Discussion Male Female Differences Expectations Personal Societal Family responsibility Opportunities Policy/infrastructure

28 Discussion - Policy Issues Aspiring leaders not in leadership positions Family responsibility and work-life balance Administrative positions - demanding and stressful Lack of opportunity to gain experience

29 Discussion Systemic Issues Limited support from leaders at the school Limited support at the school board level Shortcomings in the school boards human resource policies and procedures Lack of certification requirements

30 Discussion Lost Potential I ve got to be honest with you, right now I m really enjoying, like, in the classroom and the interaction with my children. So I m not ready to leave that yet. Down the road, maybe in a few years, I might think about it. But for right now, no, it s not for me. Sandy

31 Next Steps Develop recruitment policy for leaders Gender equity Family friendly Review current human resources practices Hiring Supervision Evaluating administrators Probationary periods Develop strategies for leadership development Develop incentive programs Develop mentoring programs Do further study on the nature of the positions and how to increase female participation

32 Questions Discussion Thank you

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