Investigation into factors hindering women teachers from accessing leadership and management positions in primary schools of Mpeketoni division, Lamu District
Mugo, Joseph Kiarie
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Although women are the majority in the world, they are greatly under-represented in senior management and leadership positions in both government based institutions and the private sector. The study aimed at investigating and explaining factors hindering women teachers from accessing leadership and management positions in primary schools in Mpeketoni Division of Lamu District. This was because despite the division having the highest number of primary schools in the district and also the number of teachers, a female teacher headed only one. The scenario is duplicated in the whole district as a woman in the district heads only one other school. The objectives of this study were to determine challenges faced by the female head teachers in the area and suggest possible solutions, examine the criteria used by the ministry of education officials in selecting head teachers, establish the extent to which women teachers are discriminated against and disadvantaged by such criteria and to determine the degree to which male dominance over female teachers affect their aspirations to leadership. It is hoped that the findings of this study will be useful to Kenya's Ministry of Education officials in their efforts to implement the Affirmative Action in the area, encourage female teachers in the area to take up leadership positions so that they can act as role models to the young girls in school and help reduce the gender gap. It will also be useful to other education stakeholders in the area and country at large. The researcher used a descriptive research design as it is concerned with establishing the factors hindering female teachers from accessing leadership positions in the area. The design is appropriate in that it describes characteristics of a particular individual or of a group of individuals. The target population was 200 teachers and five education officers in the area of study. From this population, the researcher used purposive sampling to identify primary schools with a fair distribution of male and female teachers. This helped give a balanced sample for the purpose of filling the questionnaires. The researcher interviewed nine head teachers, forty-five teachers and five education officers in the area. These formed the sample of the study. The researcher conducted a pilot study using the test re-test method to ascertain the reliability and validity of research instruments in two schools neighbouring the division with similar conditions. The researcher used three data collecting instruments; namely a questionnaire for head teachers on leadership, interview schedule for education officials and a teacher's attitude on leadership questionnaire to collect data. Data analysis was done with the help of SPSS. The researcher used frequency tables and percentages to present the data. Results from the research findings show that female teachers are discriminated against, as there were only 2 (22.22%) from the sample and even out of the total population, during appointments to headship and managerial roles in primary schools in Mpeketoni. The female teachers are not motivated as a result of increased work load, pressure from family, gender biased political interference, social cultural and religious constraints, lack of mentoring and role models from society from a very early age, reluctance by the ministry of education to implement the Presidential Decree on Affirmative Action, the lack of integrity, corruption and sexual harassment, and the sheer lack of a defined meritguided appointment process. Research findings show that female teachers are not lazy, neither are they poor leaders nor do they fail in exams. The appointment of head teachers' process is not very well defined and most respondents did not understand it well. Research findings also showed that there lacks an appraisal system (score card) to help identify performers for further action on responsibilities, leadership and managerial roles in primary schools in Mpeketoni. Female teachers prioritize family matters to career; they spend more time and money with family rather than on their own education, which would give them higher chances in appointments. Female teachers are under a constant pressure to remain closer to family and since appointments means more work at school, they shy away from such positions. Based on the research findings it is recommended that the Ministry of Education officials fully implement the Presidential Decree on Affirmative Action of 2007 to ensure that 30% of all leadership appointments go to female teachers in Mpeketoni Division. The implementation would lead fair representation of the female gender in leadership in schools. Further, the Ministry of Education should play a major role in educating, motivating and encouraging female teachers to take up major roles in headship, managerial and leadership roles in primary schools in Mpeketoni. The community should also be sensitized on the importance of gender inclusion in all areas of management and leadership of primary schools in Mpeketoni so that they can give support to female leaders in the area. The research findings showed that out of the 33 (100%) head teachers in the area of study only 2 (6.06%) were females while the rest 31 (95.94%) were men. The results therefore indicate that women teachers are heavily disadvantaged and have no voice in decision making in the area. The results also indicate that female teachers have equal educational levels as the men who are appointed to such positions. Further, the findings indicated that the female teachers need training and exposure to leadership issues so that they can be bold enough to take up appointments that come their way. Training will build confidence in them. The community should also encourage more females to take up leadership and managerial positions that are forthcoming sexual harassment, violence and intimidation meted on the females should also be discouraged right from home. The Ministry of Education officials in the district should therefore urgently address the gender imbalance. This can be done through grooming female teachers for positions of leadership and management in primary schools in order to reduce gender imbalance. Other conclusions arrived at from the research are: • The sensitization of the community on the managerial needs for female teachers and its importance to them as women in the society in advancing the gender issue. • Advancing in education of the female teachers in the area of study will help them reach positions of influence in their respective places of work. • Female teachers should be involved in decision- making at all levels to encourage them to take up leadership roles. • Special training on the importance of women leaders in the advancement of the gender balance at work and gender parity in enrolment and performance of pupils need to be given priority. This could be through organizing special seminars for female teachers in Mpeketoni Division on leadership.