Posted by: jessicaornstein | February 13, 2014

The Glass Ceiling in Education: Why Are So Few Women Becoming Head Teachers?

The Glass Ceiling in Education: Why Are So Few Women Becoming Head Teachers?

I chose this article because I liked how related to what we have read about with the struggle that women generally face with power, and also how the article also tied in the glass ceiling theory that we have discussed recently, as well.

In class, we discussed how many women are uncomfortable with the term “power,” itself, as well as the possible explanations for why so many women have trouble allowing themselves to step into positions of higher power when they are perfectly qualified and competent to take on the responsibilities of what the job entails.

This article introduces how statistics have shown that men have a number of advantages over women in the field of education, although teaching is a profession that has been largely dominated by women. The author focuses on the reason as to why less women than men are earning head teaching positions nowadays are due to women’s severe lack of self-confidence in themselves. I thought it was interesting how the article brought compared and contrasted the leadership experiences of women living in different countries/cultures.

So, I’m curious to get more feedback and opinions on what everyone else thinks about this issue with women in the workplace, such as (but not limited to) the educational field. How do you think that culture could impact a women’s leadership experience at their job within different countries? How do you think that you would react if you were able to keep your job but work in a completely different location? Do you think that other cultures would impact your own leadership experience?


  1. I found this article intriguing as well. It reminded me of the Wilson reading on ambition that stated that “women are our own worse enemies”. It is so accurate that many women give up on certain dreams or expectations for themselves because they are not confident enough to follow through with the process -like stated in this article.

    Regarding teaching positions, I think in other cultures one might see less female representation in schools because many cultures do not agree when educating women, as we saw regarding Malala. Like Malala, I would not give up on my right for an education, but I think I would be more discrete about it only because I wouldn’t want to be punished. In this way, I think other cultures impact not only women’s, but everyone’s ability to be an effective leader, whether it be due to government, sexist beliefs, or religion.

  2. I personally think that the differences in cultures may ultimately be what is hindering women from achieving higher-up jobs, such as being head teachers. It is evident through multiple studies that men dominate many management positions, especially in higher education. However, a reading that I found related to this states that:

    “More disconcerting is the likelihood that women’s interests in the institutions may not be adequately taken care of, and that women have few or no role models and mentors, something that may have far reaching consequences in terms of developing future female leaders. It is certainly important to acknowledge Cole’s (2006) observation that “women professors in higher education do not just appear out of nowhere. They have to be nurtured and developed throughout society” (p. 23).”

    This is a really interesting reading, and definitely helped me to grasp this concept.

    Ultimately, I think that Josephine Kiamba, the author of this particular reading, hit the nail on the head about women needing to transform into specific roles before they are completely comfortable in a career. This means that in different cultures, perhaps women are not achieving their career dreams due to their own personal hindrances. This brings up a point that we discussed early in the year, as we discussed that sometimes gender differences come from how we are raised and who raised us. This may be what relates us to other cultures perhaps?

  3. This is a great find; it shows how prominent the glass ceiling still is. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand because I have never faced gender issues but seeing stories like this shows that there is still room to grow.

    One quote I found really interesting was, “”Recently, I spoke to a recruiter who said that he could tell from the way a candidate had dressed and done her nails that she wasn’t going to roll her sleeves up and work well with the primary children,” she says.”

    This is interesting to me because I wear skirts some times and get dressed up, but I am still happy to sit on the floor and play with kids. Even if a women is dressed up, I feel like often she is still more likely to connect with younger kids then a male. However, this opinion also encourages gender stereotypes, which I normally have an issue with.

    Another part I found really interesting was, ‘”Women in England seem to be more worried about being a leader and a parent. They often don’t think the two are compatible.”‘

    While women can do anything they set their mind to, I don’t think I would be able to be the type of mother I want to be, and the type of leader I want to be at the same time. I would want to have those aspects separate at least for a little. I only have so many years to stay home with my kids, whereas after they grow up a little I can go right back to my career and become the leader I want to be. Maybe there is a glass ceiling or maybe some women just feel like being a mother is more important at the time and I don’t think that is wrong either.

  4. I think this article represents the glass ceiling in some respects; however, I think the labyrinth is more accurately represented, depending on the culture.

    Yes, social roles are dependent on the respective culture. However, I think the lack of confidence discussed in the article doesn’t come from the ceiling preventing their success, but an obstacle that is difficult to work through. Even though teaching is a predominantly female field and the headship positions of education being predominantly male. But how does this create a glass ceiling?

    Kate Chhatwal discusses the “hurdles” that women face more than men. Regardless of what they are, they are hurdles, something that is able to be accomplished with more work.

    It’s unfair that women must regulate how they look, act, and speak more than men, due to the double bind that society pushes on them. However, the workshops discussed in the article would be beneficial to women. Answering your question about culture impacting women’s leadership, yes, I believe that it would affect it. Thus, I think the workshops would be able to provide women with the resources they would need to effectively self-regulate themselves and their leadership. This would be a way for women to learn how to adjust to different cultures and leadership dynamics, potentially providing an extra boost to get through the labyrinth built for them.

  5. This article makes me wonder what is culturally different in England that makes it harder to become a woman leader. I believe there is a similar struggle in America with women having a hard time combining the role of mother and worker, but the article stated that it is less of a problem in the US. I think that because I have been in classes such as this one, I will be more willing to try for leadership roles. I have been pushed to increase my ambition by leaders around me. I think maybe this women need more people pushing them as well. If women are more relational as has been suggested, they may be influenced more by a personal connection encouraging them rather than statistics in an article.

  6. This article is very interesting. I am really curious about how culture affects the way women view their opportunities in leadership. I am traveling to Spain in the fall, and this makes me curious about their status with women leaders. I think that women would go higher in these institutions if they wanted to. Maybe they haven’t had that role model. It could just be that the overall interests of the women in that country are towards other fields. I think the way they were raised would have impacted their choices for their fields of study and choice for occupations later in life.

  7. I definitely could see that the lack of confidence in women would be a factor that would keep them out of the workplace. We are constantly being reminded that there are differences between men and women and that we are held to different expectations. And when we don’t even make the same amount of money that men do for the same job, how are we supposed to be confident in our abilities to get jobs over them? I never really thought about this aspect in the field of education though because I always thought of education as a place where women typically excel. I don’t want to say that I think this article is “wrong” because there are definitely some really interesting statistics in it, but I think that education is more fit for a stereotypically “feminine” person because it does require more caring and loving aspects than a lot of other occupations do. Then again, I think it also depends on the type of person you are teaching. Some men may be more successful than women when teaching with a masculine demeanor, but that doesn’t mean that every student will respond the same to it. And that goes for leadership in general. Some people like masculine leadership, and some people don’t respond that well to it. This article had a lot of really interesting points, but I would love to have even more information on the topic to asses it even farther.

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