Exploring experiences of female heads of department in four primary schools in Pinetown South Durban.
This study reports on a qualitative study that sought to explore the experiences of female Heads of Department in Primary Schools. The study was carried out in KwaNdengezi, Pinetown South. It made use of qualitative methodology to obtain data using semi-structured interviews and observations as its methods of data collection. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants of the study, and the study sample consisted of four female heads of department in four primary schools, with whom the interviews and observations were conducted. The main findings of the study revealed that female heads of department experience and internalize negative stereotypes and believe males do not listen to them and they also experience gender stereotypes and their impact when performing their management duties in schools. Other findings include the experiences related to dynamics of being mothers and teachers at the same time. Further the communication with teachers, teacher discipline and the role that gender stereotyped held by members of the society. There is the issue of unequal power relations between men and women within the schools, which is an underlying factor behind all the gender-based experiences of female heads of department in the schools. Despite the fact that female heads of department encounter gender-based experiences in their management roles and responsibilities, they are engaged in empowering style of management by means of involving all the colleagues in the decision making processes. The study concludes by recommending that female heads of departments require support from all the stakeholders of the school, and that the government should hold workshops and seminars to support them. At the school level, they should resist all attempts at being treated in a condescending manner, and become role models to other aspiring females to assume school management positions for effective management and delivery of quality education.