26 SES 09 A, LGBTIQAA+ Research And The Exploration Of Diversity And Gender In Educational Leadership
This paper presents preliminary findings of a study devoted to understand the factors –personal, micro-contextual, and social, particularly gender- that affect leadership styles, professional identity and emotional economies of woman school principals. The study is part of a wider funded inquiry that piloted a training program for experienced school principals based on the reflection over practice by means of feedback and group coaching. The analysis of the interaction inside the 14 groups that took part in the training program provided a first data set for the study presented here. Additionally, results from 3 semi-structured interviews corresponding to the second phase of the study will be depicted and discussed. Participants show very different professional identities but the three of them recognize the importance of emotions and their management in educational leadership.Besides, one of them declares that she integrates emotionality in her leadership style, developing a feminist leadership.
Professional identity is the way in which each person can recognize herself and the self-image that is shown to others. Social and cultural conditions, personal experiences, expectations, beliefs and the whole emotional world have a deep impact in its configuration. Therefore, understanding the challenges and negotiations experienced by women who assume school leadership in the framework of contradictory identities gains importance (Jones, 2017).
Understanding educational leaders professional identities clearly demands to explore the emotional aspect of that task and the power relations deployed in schools as organizations. Traditionally, organizational research did not studied emotions. Therefore, there is still little knowledge about the role they have in the process of conforming professional identity (Crow, Day and Moller, 2017) and the way in which personal trajectories and emotional experiences are integrated in the professional field (Bolívar and Ritacco, 2016).
Beatty (2000), Blackmore (2004), Brennan and Mac Ruairc (2011), Hargreaves (1998) or Møller (2003) emphasize that emotional management is an important part of principal’s tasks. Others like Blase and Blase (2004) or Maamari and Majdalani (2017) even suggest that successful educational leaders have a high degree of emotional intelligence. Resilience is also highlighted as an important capacity for educational leadership (Day, 2014; Olmo, 2017). In spite of that, authors like Blackmore (2013) criticize the perspective from which emotional intelligence is studied, affirming that it is seen as a feature of leaders with no influence in the way that principal’s role and leadership are conceived. Another groups of studies highlight some micro-contextual factors that influence emotional experiences of school members, including their leaders: organizational climate, collaboration patterns (Beatty, 2000; Brennan and Mac Ruairc, 2011, Friedman, 2002, Martínez-García and Gil-Flores, 2018, Schermuly, Schermuy and Meyer, 2011), structural isolation and overload of work and responsibilities (Martínez-García and Gil-Flores, 2018).
From a feminist perspective, the focus on emotions was associated to a critic of bureaucratic and managerial discourses that are hegemonic in the field of education. Gender has not been taken into account in the understanding of organizational processes. Fortunately, this is currently being reverted and promise allowing to think over the ways that power relations are established in organizations (Airini, Conner, McPherson, Midson and Wilson, 2011). Overtaken simplistic differentiation of styles related to gender, it is necessary to study female leaders’ experiences, taking into account their expectations and their perceptions of gender stereotypes.
The research design included two phases. While the first had a phenomenological approach the second adopted a biographical-narrative perspective. Interactions maintained among the participants in the 14 training groups were analysed in the first phase. Each group was composed by six principals plus a coordinator and all of them engaged in highly structured cycles of discussion about their practice as leaders supported by the feedback provided by specific diagnostic and self-evaluation tools. On the basis of the information obtained, an interview script was designed. It included questions about the circumstances of becoming principal, professional trajectories, emotional factors that affect professional identity, beliefs about the role, and leadership preparation. The role of emotions and the factors that influence professional identity (context, gender, etc.) were emphasized. Results depicted here come from the analysis of semi-structured interviews of three female principals who also took part in the first phase of the study. Besides of being Andalusian, they also had in common the age (50-60), the length of their trajectories as principals (more than 10 years), and the disadvantaged contexts of their school sites. More specifically, the three schools were located in the suburbs of big cities (over 300.000 residents) and shared the category of “compensatory education”, that is recognize to those organizations where the development of the educational task is more difficult than the average. While María José has been the principal of the secondary school where she works for 10 years, Rocío and Teresa have developed that role for 12 years, in different primary schools. The three of them recognize the influence of being woman in the adoption of an identity as school leader but they differ in the way they interpret such influence. Teresa denies the existence of specific differences between men and women and affirms that school leadership demands to be distributed by itself. In contrast, María José believes that being a female principal supposes to rise up against discrimination demonstrating women’s capabilities. Finally, Rocío recognizes a female tendency to caring behaviours and highlights the importance of the feminist fight for equality.
Multiple identities described by Jones (2017) could widely be recognised in the study participants. María José depicted herself as “the other” who occupies a place that is reserved to men and, at the same time, adopts the identity of a “competitor”. Although she was initially reluctant to take charge of the role of principal, she is currently willing to demonstrate her values as a female leader. Teresa is “hero” and “driver” at the same time, and enjoys being a principal without fear of being unpopular. She has the will of impulse changes but multiple contradictions between her discourse and her actions break her intentions. Rocío is a “rebel” with no ambition of power but compromise with social justice. She is also an “enabler” that wishes to empower and feed people. Her leadership is based on respect for the whole community. In coincidence with the findings presented by Brennan and Mac Ruairc (2011), the participants recognize the importance of emotions and its management in the development of their role as principals. However, Teresa and María José thinks that their emotional intelligence is in some way “additional” to the practice of leadership and does not represent a change on it. In contrast, Rocío develops a feminist leadership (Fuller, 2013) as: (1) she perceive power as multidimensional and multidirectional; (2) she pretends to empower people rather than control them; (3) her leadership is based on a relational view of morality that is developed in the frame of specific political and social relations; (4) she is concerned with communal values.
Beatty, B. (2000). The emotions of educational leadership: Breaking the silence. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 3, 331–337. doi:10.1080/ 136031200750035969 Blackmore, J. (2004). Educational leadership. A feminist critique and reconstruction. In H. Tomlinson (Ed.). Educational Management, Volume I Educational values (pp. 277-309). New York: Routledge. Blackmore, G. (2013). A feminist critical perspective on educational leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 16(2), 139-154. doi:10.1080/13603124.2012.754057 Blase, J., & Blase, J. (2004). The dark side of school leadership: Implications for administrator preparation. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 3(4), 245-273. doi:10.1080/15700760490503733 Bolívar, A., & Ritacco, M. (2016). Impacto del modelo español de dirección escolar en la identidad profesional de los líderes escolares. Archivos Analíticos de Políticas Educativas, 119(24). doi:10.14507/epaa.24.2512 Brennan, J., & Mac Ruairc, G. (2011). Taking it personally: examining patterns if emotional practice in leading primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 14(2), 129-150. doi:10.1080/13603124.2010.536261 Airini, Collings, S. Conner, L., McPherson, K., Midson, B., & Wilson, C. (2011). Learning to Be Leaders in Higher Education: What Helps or Hinders Women’s Advancement as Leaders in Universities’. Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, 39 (1). 44-62. doi:10.1177/1741143210383896 Crow, G., Day, C., & Møller, J. (2017). Framing research on school principals’ identities. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 20(3), 265-277. doi:10.1080/13603124.2015.1123299 Day, C. (2014). Resilient principals in challenging schools: the courage and costs of conviction. Teachers and Teaching, 20(5), 638-654. doi:10.1080/13540602.2014.937959 Fuller, K. (2013). Gender, Identity and Educational Leadership. London: Bloomsbury. Hargreaves, A. (1998). The emotional politics of teaching and teacher development: with implications for educational leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1(4), 315–336. doi:10.1080/1360312980010401 Jones, D. (2017). Constructing identities: female head teacher’s perceptions and experiences in the primary sector. Educational Management and Leadership, 45(6), 907-928. doi:10.1177/1741143216653973 Maamari, B. E., & Majdalani, J. F. (2017). Emotional intelligence, leadership style and organizational climate. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 25(2), 327-345. doi:10.1108/IJOA-04-2016-1010 Martínez García, I., & Gil Flores, J. (2018). Explicación de la satisfacción en la dirección escolar a partir del desempeño de la función directiva. Education in the Knowledge Society, 19(1), 77-95. doi:10.14201/eks20181917795 Møller, J. (2003). Gender and leadership identities. Negotiated realities for women as school principals. Improving schools, 6(3), 23-44. doi:10.1177/136548020300600305 Olmo, M. (2017). Liderazgo resiliente en directores de educación secundaria en contextos desafiantes: estudio de casos (Doctoral Thesis). Universidad de Granada, Granada.
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