An investigation into the promotion opportunities for women educators in the KwaZulu Department of Education and Culture with particular reference to high schools in Umlazi.
Nzimande, Hettie Nomthandazo.
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In education women outnumber men as teachers, but the top positions are almost entirely dominated by men. Shakeshaft (1987:20), using data collected for education systems in the United States of America noted that in 1984-5, only 3,0 percent of the district superintendents were women, although 50,1 percent of all secondary school teachers and 83,5 percent of all elementary school teachers were women. According to Blampied (1989), the data obtained from the 1987 statistical returns from government schools under the Natal Education Department indicated that the number of women in education administration was disproportionately lower than the number of men in congruent positions. It was decided that the situation deserved to be tested in schools administered by the KwaZulu Department of Education and Culture. According to the survey of secondary schools administered by the KwaZulu Department of Education and Culture, in respect of the 230 Junior Secondary schools in the sample, 86,5 percent of the school principals were male and the incidence of male principals was even greater in high schools (Thurlow 1993:32). The study of selected literature led to the finding of possible barriers to the career advancement of women educators. The barriers were classified into two broad categories - internal barriers, relating to psychological factors; and external barriers, which related to institutional, societal and organizational structures. A questionnaire was designed to attempt to ascertain if any congruency could be identified between the barriers perceived by other researchers and those which according to the respondents existed in schools administered by the KwaZulu Department of Education and Culture. The most commonly cited obstacle to the upward mobility of women was discrimination against them. There were suggestions that women were generally valued less than men. Women were treated as inferior in law, politics, religion and education as well as in society generally. Other barriers to promotion which were frequently alluded to related to the perception that some women were not interested in vertical career mobility but preferred to remain in the classroom rather than seek a position which would distance them from teaching. The evidence also suggested that although the larger proportion of the respondents were keen to receive a promotion, they thought they would not be promoted because they considered the allocation of promotions to be unfair. It was however noted that women educators who have made some progress on the promotional ladder perceived fewer obstacles to their advancement than unpromoted respondents.