The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse the significance of the incidence of female principals in the urban sector of Eretz Israel, against the background of growing Jewish society, through the prism of which we can view the development of modern Hebrew education during the waning Ottoman rule.
In addition to the archival material, contemporary newspapers provided an important source, as did memoirs of prominent people that, to some extent, filled in the “gaps”, more on the running of the schools and less on the activities of the four principals.
A survey of the archival material reveals that the four women share biographical elements, their talents, personalities and education obtained abroad, style of school leadership and organization, not to mention their moral contribution to the education of girls in Eretz Israel.
One may point to other fields in which women began to play a more prominent role, based on European training and experience. For instance, in medicine and a modern approach to midwifery, From 1900, modern trained female doctors, nurses and midwives began to be employed in hospitals and private practices around the country, helping to radically reduce childbirth fatalities and allowing women to consult a woman practitioner where before they had been unwilling to expose themselves to men. Although a direct link between the earlier presence of female educational administrators and the entry of women doctors may be difficult to establish, the atmosphere had certainly begun to change.
From that period on, during the British Mandate, and after the creation of the State of Israel, immense changes have been instituted. One can view the seeds of these changes as, at least in part, having been planted by the pioneering work of our four women. There were far reaching developments in the conception of female management from the time of the Ottoman rule through the period of the British Mandate.
This research shines a light on a forgotten world and pursues a phenomenon not yet revealed in Zionist historiography − the running of girls’ schools by women in the Jewish community, under the dying Ottoman regime. The study allows us a deeper insight into the historical educational processes that fashioned the profession of head teachers, via pioneering female principals. Female administration in a patriarchal society, with a hegemonic male orientation that placed man at the centre and woman as secondary, faced these problems, obstacles and opposition. Women who were appointed to run schools had to justify their position by imitating the “masculine” style of management and to carry out their work − both pedagogical and administrative − without organizational, social or emotional support. They suffered opposition, internal (their male teaching staff) and external (from patrons and the religious community) and the need to respond to their criticism.
Shehory-Rubin, Z. (2015), "Administration and gender in Eretz Israel: Profiles and career paths of women in educational administration during the late Ottoman period, 1889-1914", History of Education Review, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 253-267. https://doi.org/10.1108/HER-04-2013-0012Download as .RIS
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