The challenges faced by female teachers in assuming leadership roles in schools : a study of two schools in Pietermaritzburg and two schools in a small town just outside Pietermaritzburg.
Prior to the first democratic elections in South Africa , the education system was structured around a hierarchical and bureaucratic style of management. This meant that the control of schools and the decision-making in schools was centralized, and leadership was understood in terms of "position, status and authority" (Grant, 2006). This study intended to look at how this understanding of leadership could have contributed to creating a situation in the education system where female teachers were, and are still not being given the same opportunities to assume leadership positions as their male counterparts. Using semi-structured interviews and questionnaires, two female teachers occupying different post levels, in each of the four schools who had, in their teaching career, expressed an interest to take on leadership roles and who have/have not succeeded and who have experienced/are experiencing challenges in this regard, were asked to volunteer for this study. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcription of the interviews for analysis was done both quantitatively and qualitatively, making use of tables to illustrate numbers and percentages in different aspects in the study, as well as thematic content analysis using the tool of zones and roles as outlined in Grant (2008). Being female they have also experienced a number of challenges in their careers as well as in the areas of being mothers and spouses, and it would seem that these female teachers are still feel ing the strain of what is socially expected of them as mothers and spouses and their desires to advance their careers in what appears still to be a male dominated and patriarchical society, especially when it comes to taking on leadership and management positions in school. The findings in this study have led to the conclusion that for some of these female teachers, teaching was not their career of choice, but are now committed to this profession and are very aware of the gender inequalities in education and the challenges they face as female teachers, and have expressed sincere wishes that this be addressed.