Southwell & Social Construction
Social constructivism is the idea that our understanding of the world is based on the shared ideas, concepts and expectations created through the interactions with others. Vygotsky has been a key theorist of social constructivism.
Socially constructed views of educational leadership change based on culture, history and context(Southworth, 2000). It is based on the current beliefs of educational leadership and what ‘good’ educational leadership is. This has continuously changed over time from where the role was more of a managerial role to now focused on more inspirational leadership while still requiring aspects of educational leaders as managers. Southworth suggests that social construction is the assumed norms, though we may not always be conscious of them.
Southworth, G. (2000). School leadership in English schools at the close of the 20th Century: Puzzles, problems and cultural insights, Paper presented at the meeting of the American Education Research Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.
Leadership & Gender
As a female in international education, I look to the hierarchy of my own school and other schools in my area. Time and time again I see a few females in the roles of senior leadership. In my school, we have 1 female out of 5 senior leadership members. It is very unbalanced. If you move a few steps down the hierarchy to middle leadership (year group coordinators, subject coordinators, etc), you will find an even number of males and females in leadership positions if not more females slightly. While this middle management tilt may be due to generally more females in the education field, there seems to be a glass ceiling effect that makes it challenging for females to move beyond to senior leadership.
As an Education Technology Coach, I also very few females represented in these roles. Primarily technology roles are dominated by males. I am the first female ever in the technology role in my school and work with 3 other males.
While I firmly believe the best person for the job should get a position, schools should be cognizant of what messages are perceived by others when looking at leadership teams. What does it say to your students when no females are in technology leadership positions? What does it say to parents and staff when all senior leadership consists of males? How does having different genders on a leadership team impact the perspectives brought to the table of discussions?