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Muslim female teachers enacting leadership: a collaborative self-study.

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As a Muslim female teacher and Head of Department, I worked together with three other Muslim female teachers to explore the challenges of and opportunities for enacting leadership in personal and professional spheres. I considered leadership from multiple viewpoints, including an Islamic perspective and a feminist perspective. I also built on Grant’s model (2012) of teacher leadership to understand Muslim female teachers’ leadership in schools. Employing a collaborative self-study methodology, I used multiple data generation strategies: journal writing, memory drawing, collage making, story writing, letter writing and audio recorded discussions. The study was guided by two primary research questions: What are our experiences as Muslim female teachers of enacting leadership? What are the possibilities for enhancing Muslim female teachers’ experiences of enacting leadership? I discovered that Muslim female teachers are capable of leading in personal and professional spheres. However, they often experience impediments related to patriarchy, religion, and culture. Muslim female teachers’ voices are crucial in developing as leaders to express their views in decision-making, choices, and overcoming restrictions. Male and female family members, community members, and colleagues need to support Muslim female teachers’ leadership. Complimenting, affirming and validating Muslim women’s successes would strengthen female Muslim leadership and build Muslim communities. Religious and traditional Muslim values and practices should not be barriers to women’s leadership development and access to opportunities. Men and women in power within school communities should understand that Muslim female teachers possess the competencies to lead. Openings and support should be created for Muslim female teachers to take on wide-ranging leadership roles beyond the school’s confines. Overall, this study adds to essential methodological conversations about ethics in self-study research, particularly concerning collaborative self-study research on sensitive topics and with vulnerable participants. The thesis exemplifies how self-study researchers can take heed of the ethical significance of developing bonds, working with emotions, and using creative data generation practices. This study adds to the research literature, internationally and locally, on a particular group of vulnerable and marginalised women in teacher leadership, i.e., Muslim female teachers. To my knowledge, this is the first study in South Africa on Muslim female teachers’ leadership.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.