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Struggling to make a difference against the odds: a synthesis of qualitative research on women leading schools in Zimbabwe

Zvisinei Moyo (Department of Education Leadership and Management, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway, South Africa)
Juliet Perumal (Department of Education Leadership and Management, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway, South Africa)
Philip Hallinger (College of Management, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand) (Department of Education Leadership and Management, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway, South Africa)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 28 August 2020

Issue publication date: 8 October 2020

416

Abstract

Purpose

This paper reports on results of a systematic research synthesis of 25 studies on women in educational leadership and management in Zimbabwe. The aim of this systematic review of research was to report conclusions drawn from a synthesis of findings from studies of gender and educational leadership in Zimbabwe.

Design/methodology/approach

The review used systematic methods to identify 25 research studies that examined women leading schools in Zimbabwe. Research synthesis methods used for qualitative research studies were employed in order to identify three broad themes and related subthemes across the studies.

Findings

The review identified three themes: (1) barriers to women gaining access to management positions, (2) female ways of leading, (3) context challenges for women leaders. Both barriers to gaining positions and context challenges faced in enactment of the leadership role are described. These consist of an intertwined web of personal, institutional and cultural challenges. Women's ways of leading were characterized as collegial, collaborative and caring.

Research limitations/implications

Three implications are identified. First is a need for better statistical information on gender representation in Zimbabwe and other African countries. Second is a need to design and implement training, mentoring and networking support programs for female leaders in Zimbabwe. Finally, the authors recommend that future research move toward the use of mixed methods research designs capable of achieving complementary research goals of gaining a broad perspective on the effects of female leadership and in-depth understanding of how those are achieved.

Originality/value

Empirical studies of female leadership is especially urgent in Africa where particular features embedded in the cultural context shape female access to leadership role and attitude towards efforts of women to lead.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This work is based on the research supported wholly by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant Number 116777) for Dr Zvisinei Moyo.

Citation

Moyo, Z., Perumal, J. and Hallinger, P. (2020), "Struggling to make a difference against the odds: a synthesis of qualitative research on women leading schools in Zimbabwe", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 34 No. 10, pp. 1577-1594. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-01-2020-0015

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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