Gendered experiences : a study of four women heads in the department of commerce.
Social discourses and gender equality policies in South Africa has enabled the entry of significant numbers of women into predominantly male domains of educational leadership. In this study, the lived experiences, of four women heads of department in four historically race classified schools in the Durban Metropolitan area, are explored. This study probes the gendered experiences, in which, race and class are inextricably interwoven, as heads of department in commerce and questions the extent to which their leadership positions are a reflection of gender equality. Based on semi-structured interviews with the research participants (black, coloured, Indian and white), this study argues that despite occupying the status of head of department the research participants still assume gender subjective roles. Although, some evidence exists of changing patterns of these women's lives at different stages, the study reveals that the public and private spheres of work and family are not separate entities; they intersect and impinge, with particular implications for the position of women within the sphere of education leadership. The study reveals that despite an overarching discourse of gender equality, discourses of leadership are primarily about gender, race and class structure in the lived experiences of the participants. The gendered experiences overall was such that they inhibited these women from applying for further promotion. In effect, the study shows that these women, irrespective of being educated and occupying positions of leadership, are still in a state of subjugation and male domination.