"I'm the boss"-- a study of leadership and the labour divide in some secondary schools : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Women's Studies at Massey University

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
When is a principal not a principal ... when s/he is an associate principal. The position of associate principal in secondary schools in New Zealand is a site of contradiction. At the same time as the associate is a principal she (often he) is not a principal. As schools with a population of more than 1400 students expand their rolls (Sergiovanni, 1995, Grace, 1995) they can choose (O'Neill, 1996, Armstrong, 1991) whether to include an associate principal in their management structure. While some of these schools turn down the offer, others choose to do so. That such a possibility is available suggests that hierarchical structures (Court, 1993; Regan, 1995) in these organisations are breaking down. It would appear that schools can design the management structure that best suits them, and that their leaders create their own 'badge of office' (Raymond & Cunliffe, 1997), and enact 'their' particular vision (Hegelson, 1990; Belenky et al, 1989). Devolution of power (Lukes, 1974; Smyth, 1989; Deem et al, 1995) to community level contains the possibility of more democratic and participatory leadership (Wilson, 1995; Brosnahan, 1996). The role of the state (O'Neill, 1996; Armstrong, 1992) in endorsing and effecting these changes is central. In contradictory fashion the state is both present and absent in the operation of secondary schools. It claims to be an unequivocal advocate of Equal Employment Opportunity practices (James & Saville-Smith, 1992), yet at the same time will allow one principal only to lead and manage (Grace, 1995; Olsson, 1996) a school. The power that schools have to make decisions around leadership is not as clear cut as it might seem. Historically and persistently schools have been led by men (Grace, 1995). Common belief, largely unquestioned, (Connell, 1987; Court, 1994) suggests that 'strong men' (Connell, 1996; Eveline, 1996, Hurty, 1995, Court, 1989) are required in the schools of today. Women seem (Wodak, 1997; Eveline, 1996) not to fit the bill (Still, 1996; Acker, 1991; Evetts, 1996), thus are not appointed. Many more women, it is generally asserted, prefer to teach rather than manage (Shakeshaft, 1989). Typically women are thought to have a different style (Rosener, 1990; Ferrario, 1991; Southworth, 1993) of leadership which may not be suitable in the competitive educational marketplace of the present (Wilson, 1996; Smyth, 1989), but suited to a collaborative (Brosnahan, 1996; Hargreaves, 1994) organisational culture, perhaps of the future. The position of associate principal can function as a transitional position, providing a formal mentoring opportunity (Woodd, 1997; Ehrlich, 1995). Whether it can facilitate the movement of women into senior management, and reduce principal isolation, is explored in this thesis.
New Zealand, Women school administrators, High school principals