An exploration of professional self advancement of women in educational leadership : a case study of six women from Ilembe District, KZN.
Ndadane, Jacqueline Jablisile.
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The study sought to explore six women from Ilembe District who are managing in different levels within their organisations. The study focused on Principals, Deputy Principals and HOD‟s from different schools. The aim of the study was to find out whether Professional self-advancement has embraced women in Education Leadership with skills that would help them withstand the challenges mostly faced by women leaders that are imposed by the patriarchal gendered background. This qualitative study was set in the interpretive paradigm. It used semi structured interviews and documents analysis, as its method of data collection. The findings revealed that women were reluctant at some point to improve themselves professionally because there is lesser advancement of women into leadership positions, as compared to their male counterparts. It transpired that some women believed that the employment of feminine characteristics of managing embraced women with a sense of worth and responsibility in their organisations. On the other hand some women were pre-conditioned that in order to be recognised as a good leader one had to employ masculine character traits to be acceptable. To most participants professional self-advancement has empowered them to be confident, knowledgeable and be resilient to withstand all negative misconceptions towards them as women leaders. In large majority, women believed that their exposure to management courses has helped them deal with conflicts and improve inter-relations within their organisations. They see themselves as approachable, nurturing, supportive and relational to all their subordinates and this bring meaning to them as women that they have a major role to play to help shape our education. Grogan (2010) hinted that studies pursued by Shakeshaft and Grogan on US women leaders have noted five different characteristics portrayed by women managers which are; leadership for learning, leadership for social justice, relational leadership, spiritual leadership and balance leadership. The study recommends that both the victims and perpetrators of gendered situations should work collaboratively to re-socialise both women and men so as to help women find their self worth within the education system. This could be done by assisting women improve themselves through engaging with institutions of higher learning, attending seminars, motivational talks, enhance networking, have mentors and attend departmental programmes that focus on enhancement of leadership skills. Lastly, for outstanding performance, women should be accepted as they are, to regain their self confidence and exhaust all their capabilities, but not to disregard their mothering flair. Lumby and Azaola (2013) in their study on women principals in South Africa said that, their „mothering identity‟ develops skills even in areas where they report there is considerable doubt about their competence, for example in disciplining boys. In their study they picked that as mothers, they are better able than men to discipline boys. Through exposure to management studies, some participants have found that they use both feminine and masculine style of leadership. Coleman (1996) as cited in Pace and Pace (2005) found that female head teachers exhibit both feminine and masculine qualities, and hence could be identified as androgynous leaders. It is therefore, important that women are exposed to skills development workshops; nurture their studies, engage in networking, and advance their knowledge in every way possible to become better leaders in education.