Administrtive and socio economic factors hindering female access to leadership positions in secondary schools in Nyeri district
Munene, Margaret Muthoni
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Today, women are struggling with the delicate balance of attending to the needs of both their families and their careers, job competition with men and conflicts, stemming from cultural changes and beliefs in the way men and women inter-relate. There has been a lot of gender discrimination mostly based on the cultural beliefs of the of the people (Munroe, 2001). The purpose of the study was to establish the administrative and socio economic factors hindering female access to leadership positions in secondary schools. The researchers aim was to establish some of the constraints that have contributed to females low access to leadership positions. The study was carried out employing the descriptive survey design. The study population was all the 138 public secondary schools of Nyeri District in Central Province. The study was carried out in Nyeri District due to financial and time limitations. The target population was the female principals, deputy principals and assistant teachers. The researcher sampled the schools that are headed by female principals and categorized them into either boarding girls or mixed day and boarding. All the teachers in each of the selected schools were given an equal chance of inclusion. The researcher got a sample size of 15% which was 21 secondary schools. All the 21 principals participated and four assistant teachers bringing the sample size to 105 respondents. Two sets of questionnaires were used to generate the required data. One set was for the principals of the identified schools; and the second set for the assistant teachers. A pilot study was conducted in two selected schools to measure the validity and the reliability of the questionnaires. These two schools were identical to the actual sample used in the study. Validity is the degree to which the empirical measure or several measures of the content, accurately measure the concept. The researcher consulted a panel of competent persons to assess the relevance of the content used in the questionnaires developed. Reliability on the other hand is the extent to which an instrument produces the same results every time it is used. The reliability of the instrument was determined using the test-retest method and pearson product moment correlation coefficient. A correlation coefficient of about 0.70 was considered high enough to declare the instrument reliable for the study. The data collection instruments included 2 sets of questionnaires prepared for school principals and the assistant teachers. The data collected was subjected to both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Qualitative analysis was in narrative form while quantitative data was analyzed through descriptive statistics, using percentages, means, frequencies and standard deviations. The major findings of the study was that there was a major difference between the number of male and female teachers holding leadership positions. There were several gender related factors that militated against women thereby making them fewer compared to the men: female teachers were more concerned with family issues, there was a lot of gender discrimination, female teachers did not apply for promotion and there was a bias in the selection processes. The dual careers for women made it hard for the female headteachers to cope with the management of the home as a mother, wife, home maker and the accompanying chaos and at the same time effectively carry out her duties and responsibilities at school. Where there were work problems they emanated from both male and female teachers indiscriminately. This implied that given equal opportunities and terms of service, there was no sex difference at work. The researcher also found out that enrolment and completion rates for boys was higher than that of girls in secondary schools. The reasons cited for this gender disparity was that girls were discriminated upon; engaged in household chores and taking care of the young ones while others dropped out due to early pregnancies and marriages. This low enrolment and completion rate affected the number of women appointed to leadership positions. The implication was that Kenyan women remained under-privileged and under represented in all important authoritative and decision - making positions. Based on the findings, the main recommendations of the study are that there is great need to force socio-economic and political systems to be redesigned in a way that will favour the processes of humanization. It was also recommended that policy makers and planners, teachers, administrators, politicians etc. Be involved in constant and thorough dialogue and communication inorder to make them understand the advantages of incooporating women's knowledge in development and leadership. The researcher also recommended that the government should establish major reforms in order to enable women be integrated as active participants in promotion of education and development. This would be enhanced by holding empowerment seminars and the members of the society improving their attitude towards women leaders in order to avoid gender discrimination. In addition more women should be appointed to positions of leadership and responsibility particularly in education to act as role models for girls. Parents should also be encouraged to send the girl child to school and to value their education to enhance completion rates.