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Title: Experiences of Professional Women in Leadership Positions in New South Wales Rural Schools: Early to Late Career Perspectives
Contributor(s): Al-Awiwe, Azhar Ahmed (author); Miller, Judith (supervisor); Graham, Lorraine (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2012
Copyright Date: 2011
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Abstract: This study contributes to an enhanced understanding of the leadership styles of female school leaders in rural settings. A two-part descriptive and qualitative approach was used to explore career progression patterns for female leaders in rural schools. First, findings from survey data (n = 52) collected by members of the Bush Tracks Collective were considered. These surveys were designed to elicit information about early career teachers' experiences of leading in rural schools. In turn, these responses informed a series of interview questions that were asked of four experienced female rural school leaders. The interviews were audio recorded for later transcription and coding, and were analysed using two complementary methods. Firstly, the interview data were manually coded for themes by the researcher. Secondly, the data text files were analysed using the text mining software, Leximancer (Smith, 2000). This allowed triangulation of the findings to ensure trustworthiness of the conclusions. The findings from the survey data indicated that approximately 40% of the respondents had experienced formal leadership roles as the result of accelerated leadership opportunities. Across a number of career stages, the four female leaders who participated in this study reported facing either professional or personal challenges or both. A collaborative style of leadership was the preferred style for all the interviewed female leaders, though, in terms of leadership effectiveness, no gender differences were identified. Instead, leadership effectiveness was found to depend on a person's character and attitude, not their gender. In identifying the types of support the female rural leaders found beneficial for their success in leadership positions in rural schools, the role of mentors and professional development courses run by the Department of Education and Training were mentioned most frequently. The female leaders identified a specific difference in the style of leadership of males compared to other female colleagues with women identified as most likely to take on the most time-intensive less formal administrative roles in schools. Recommendations from this research include a call for greater emphasis on (i) the provision of systematic professional development for all current and aspiring leaders; (ii) informal networking opportunities for leaders located in isolated rural settings; (iii) the role of informal leadership experience when assessing teachers to be offered rural school leadership positions; and (iv) enrolment in the Postgraduate Coursework in Education (School Leadership) award which is geared towards the needs of school-based leaders, particularly those in rural and regional settings.
Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Field of Research Codes: 130302 Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education
139999 Education not elsewhere classified
130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Rights Statement: Copyright 2011 - Azhar Ahmed Al-Awiwe
Open Access Embargo: 2013-06-29
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
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Appears in Collections:School of Education
Thesis Masters Research

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