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Women in Primary Education Principalship in Cyprus: Experiences from Past to Present

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posted on 27.03.2013, 12:24 by Elena Kyriacou-Savva
The aim of this thesis is to cast light on the neglected ‘walking phenomenon’ (Morton, 2002) of women’s uneven participation in Cyprus primary school management and to investigate the reasons causing it. More specifically, the research offers insights into women’s experiences of progressing to and experiencing primary school principalship in Cyprus from 1961 to 2010; examines whether and to what extent these experiences have changed over the last five decades; and maps the reasons women leaders provide for their disproportionate representation in principalship over this period. Underpinned by the principle of ‘fitness for purpose’ (Cohen et al., 2007), the interpretive paradigm, a qualitative approach (narrative inquiry), snowball sampling, semi-structured in-depth narrative interviewing of 23 retired and in-service women principals as well as thematic analysis are adopted. With regard to women’s experiences of progressing to principalship, the findings suggest that women educators in primary education between 1961 and 2010 had generally been non-leadership oriented; had followed fairly unplanned occupational trajectories; and thus had needed external encouragement to enhance their confidence and set themselves on the pathway to principalship. Participants had been fairly unaware of discriminatory dynamics during the interview for promotion. In terms of women’s experiences of principalship, the outcomes indicate that, despite a growing positive ethos, stereotypical preconceptions identified in the school, community and family contexts regarding women in leadership posts – particularly of younger age – persist. The comparison of women’s experiences of progressing to and experiencing primary school principalship in Cyprus between 1961 and 2010 reveals comparable conducive and/or impeding impacts on women’s advancement as well as on their leadership role as such, throughout the period under consideration. A range of reasons for women’s disproportionate representation in primary school principalship are proposed by narrators that fall in three intersected levels coined in this thesis: a) the Macro level: Socio-cultural barriers, b) the Meso level: Institutional barriers and c) the Micro level: Personal/Psychological barriers. Some implications for theory, policy and practice are provided and recommendations for future research are proposed.



Shah, Saeeda; Busher, Hugh

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University of Leicester

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