Determinants of women participation in leadership of public secondary schools: a case of Kitui District, Kenya
The purpose of the study was to examine the determinants of women participation in leadership of pubic secondary schools; a case study of Kitui District Kenya. Women in the District are underrepresented in the management of public secondary schools. Four research questions were formulated to guide in the study. The first question sought to establish whether teachers' educational qualifications and training influence their appointment to leadership positions in public schools. The second question sought to establish whether cultural beliefs, values and practices contribute to the low participation of women teachers in leadership of secondary schools. The third question sought to establish whether gender roles hinder women from aspiring and taking up positions of leadership in secondary schools and the final question sought to establish whether women's perception of themselves in relation to leadership hindered their appointment to administrative positions in secondary schools. The review of the literature focused on educational qualification and training in relation to leadership of secondary schools, influence of cultural beliefs, values and practices on women leadership, gender roles in relation to female leadership in secondary schools and women's perception of themselves in relation to leadership of secondary schools. Th~~sed for data collection was questionnaires. The researcher constructed three separate questionnaires for the education officials, for the head teachers and for the rest of the teachers in the schools. The questionnaire sought the demographic information and information to answer research questions. The study was carried out in four out of thirteen divisions of Kitui district namely, Central, Matinyani, Chuluni and Katulani. The participating schools were selected through simple random sampling. The major findings of the study revealed that: • There were more male teachers than female teachers in positions of leadership that is, 69.4% were head teachers, 59.5% deputy head teachers and 77.4% heads of departments. • That lack of adequate academic qualifications and training was a hindrance to women appointment to leadership positions in public secondary schools. The presence of more male teachers with higher academic qualifications and training (41.3% against 28.3% graduates) gave them (male) an advantage over women in taking up positions of leadership in the schools. • That cultural beliefs, values and practices contribute to low participation of women teachers in leadership of public secondary schools. Most teachers (64.5% against 35.5%) preferred working with male head teachers due to cultural stereotypes that males are better leaders than females. Most communities devalue female leadership and this was a great hindrance to appointment of women to leadership positions. • Gender roles such as domestic chores and child rearing interfere more with women's performance of school duties as compared to male teachers. Some 30% female teachers against 5% male teachers indicated that children always interfered with their school work. This hinder women from appointment and taking up leadership positions in the institutions. • That women perceived themselves as having leadership qualities. For example head teachers perceived themselves as having integrity and confidence with 75% and 65.5% respectively. Based on the findings, it was concluded that teachers' academic qualifications and training seemed to determine the position females hold in their schools. More males than female had better academic qualifications and training hence, their high presence in school administration. Other determinants that appeared to impede participation of women in leadership of public secondary schools were cultural beliefs, values and practices, gender roles and women perception of themselves in taking up leadership responsibilities. In the light of the research findings, the researcher made four recommendations. These were that: 1. more women should be encouraged and supported to go for higher education and training so that they can take equal leadership positions as their male counterparts. 11. communities must be educated to appreciate and view women's role in leadership to be as good as that of males. iii. men should realize the need to participate in child rearing and in domestic chores, this would enable women to take up leadership. iv. women should be encouraged to apply for leadership positions.