Inspectors of education's perceptions of female principalship in the Rundu region of Namibia

by Kawana, Irene

Abstract (Summary)
While women constitute more than 51% of the population and far outnumber men in teaching positions in Namibia, very few occupy positions of leadership. Male candidates are still favoured for top positions, thereby denying women the chance to gain entrance to these positions. One of the reasons for this imbalance seems to be that, in spite of conscious political effort and legislation, women may still be perceived as less effective leaders than men.

This research focused on leadership in education, in particular school principals, and explored the perceptions of female principalship held by school inspectors. Three school inspectors from the Rundu Education Region were purposefully selected and interviewed. Inspectors were selected on the grounds of their considerable influence in the selection and appointment of school principals.

The study found that these inspectors favour school principals who show commitment to their work, have good interpersonal working relationships, are caring, good listeners, visionary and produce good results. The inspectors attribute female principals’ success to their traditionally perceived characteristics, such as caring leadership and ability to develop good human relations. Instead of perceiving these qualities as professionally negative (as is sometimes argued in the literature) the inspectors see them as indisputable assets to leadership. The respondents acknowledge the cultural stereotyping that may have influenced male attitudes to women in the past, but argue that good leadership is not specific to gender, but part of the qualities a person possesses, regardless of sex.

This study concludes that, contrary to what has been reported in many studies, these inspectors perceive women principals as effective – equal to their male counterparts or sometimes even more effective - because they are caring, well organized and good at communicating and establishing relations with others. Though these qualities are different from the traditional masculine qualities which include independence and emotional strength, the respondents recognize and legitimize them as preferred qualities in current effective leadership practice.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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