Talking about gendered headship: how do women and men working in schools conceive and articulate notions of gender?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


In this paper I explore how a woman secondary school headteacher and her colleagues talk about her gendered headship. To facilitate and contextualise the semi-structured interviews, participants were asked to categorise a range of attributes and qualities that have been seen as 'masculine' or 'feminine'. They attempted to plot their perceptions of her gendered headship on a continuum from 'extremely masculine' to 'extremely feminine' in relation to her appearance and interactions in various contexts. Their talk, as they explained and illustrated their thinking, reveals that even from a dualist starting point many have an understanding of the fluid nature of complex, subjective, gendered identities. The rejection of binary notions of gender by some participants disrupts the perpetuation of gender as a dualist concept. In particular, the headteacher forces open a space in which to consider the complexity of her own gendered headship.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-382
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Educational Administration and History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010