ERG SES D 10, Educational Leadership
The research is inserted in a transdisciplinary approach, focusing on paths of how female school principals construct and develop professional identity. Two major approaches to professional identity include a feminist standpoint and a social construction approach. The former claims that females are underrepresented as leaders in most facets of work life due to gender role stereotypes, prejudices and unequal power distribution. The latter subscribes to the notion that person’s identities are multiple and fluid due to their cultural, historic, and social situatedness. That are identities, as well as professional identity, are constructed through relationships with other people and the social systems in which individuals find themselves embedded at the given point in time. According to feminist standpoint, female identities are developed very differently from their male counterparts as a systemic hierarchy of inequity above the principalship is recognized. As stated by Carrim and Nkomo (2016) managerial field is extremely genderistic, and a school principal is commonly considered as a white male. According to feminist standpoint organisations and professions are predominantly male constructs, whereas effective management, hierarchic positions, professional autonomy are grounded on male beliefs and standards (White, 2015). Despite the fact that the number of female school principals has been growing in the field of education management, masculinity approach is still being applied in this sphere due to prevailing dominance of power culture in the society (Brody, Rubin, & Maume, 2014). Giroux (2016) claims the need to analyze the concept of power culture and its relation to dominant standardized practice in the culture of education policy. Though literature presents a variety of ways to define professional identity, but most common definition overwhelms the identification with the person’s profession and conceptualizing oneself as a part of it (Brott & Myers, 1999; Healey & Hayes, 2012; Coyle, 2017). It should be mentioned that school principals’ professional identity and its development is highly influenced by multiple educational interactions (Griffiths & García-Peñalvo, 2016). It is obvious that the process of socialization is essential for an individual in gaining public appreciation and the feeling of safety, and could be considered as the main factors determining female school principals’ performative behavior in satisfying needs and expectations of the community, peers, colleagues, and the society. Thus, female school principals construct their professional identity through interactions and dialogues with local community, representatives of various institutions, colleagues, teachers, parents, and students by means of informal and invisible learning. The study is framed as an ethnographic case study to disclose the main purpose of the research to understand in depth, investigate, and discover the patterns how professional identity as a cultural construct is acquired in the context of concepts of agency, power relations, subjectivities within gender and social analysis encompassing unstructured learning contexts in multiple educational interactions in institutionalized processes and systems by which they are formed, shaped and reshaped over time.
This paper uses a theoretical conceptual analysis. It analyzes the key concepts of theoretical framework – professional identity, theories of identity and social identity, and concepts of informal and invisible learning. A feminist standpoint and social constructivist theory has been applied to the analysis of literature that led to development of a theoretical framework and approach to further research and practice. It uses mainly research articles, policy documents, and philosophy books on the subject.
The paper presents a reflection on male dominant educational management field to unfold complex process of female school principal‘s professional identity development through unstructured forms of learning. The paper suggest that under the pressure of societal norms, power relations and gender uneguality professional identity could be constructed through ways on informal and invisible learning. The paper suggests a vision of open learning environment for school principals in multiple educational interactions, where female school principals could participate in shaping places, physical objects, using various technologies and other resources to construct their professional identity and express themselves in unretrained manner, as well exploring various school cultural perceptions of space and agency. It is recommended further research and discussion on the topic regarding application of ethnographic methodological stance.
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