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The Challenges facing Women aspiring for School Leadership Positions in South African Primary Schools

SCM Greyling
GM Steyn


The single most important problem facing contemporary women in an educational context is the unjustified underrepresentation of women in top management positions. Efforts to bring about changes at school level pose a huge challenge. The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that quell women’s aspirations to apply for school principal posts or to be appointed in such positions. A qualitative study was carried out, in particular a case study involving 15 teachers in the foundation phase at four schools. These participants represented white, coloured and black teachers in the four schools. Individual interviews were conducted to determine the participants’ experiences and perceptions of the factors that play a role in the aspirations of women to become school principals. The following  themes emerged from the data analysis: the perceptions and experiences of women managers; problems encountered by women principals; and women’s  experiences relating to support for a manager’s position.The study shows that although the professional profile of women in management posts differs from that of their male counterparts in schools, women can also effectively lead and manage schools.

Key words: aspirations to principalship; female principals; gender discrimination; school management

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eISSN: 1596-9231