Gender effects on leadership styles in public schools in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Alhammadi, Mariam Ahmed Mohamed Ali (2019) Gender effects on leadership styles in public schools in Abu Dhabi, UAE. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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There is an apparent lack of women in ‘top’ educational leadership and management positions in the UAE, despite increasing number of women in higher education and the relatively high enrolment rates and academic performance of females at all levels of education. This study examines gender effects on leadership styles in public schools in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The study specifically examines the differences in leadership styles between male and female school leaders (principals) in the UAE, and the perceived challenges that women face in leadership positions, and when seeking higher leadership positions, contributing to knowledge on gender and educational leadership in three unique ways. First, it makes contribution to the literature on the under-representation of women in high leadership positions in educational institutions. Second, it contributes to the literature on the gender-based differences in leadership styles in public schools, using both the perceptions of teachers and principals. Third, it contributes specifically to literature on gender gaps, educational participation and leadership in the UAE at a time of transformation in the educational system. The present study adopted a mixed methods approach, combing both quantitative and qualitative paradigms of data collection and analysis. The study made use of data collected from the multifactor leadership questionnaire (MLQ) responses of 300 school principals and 300 school teachers (male and female), as well as semi-structured interviews of 12 (6 male and 6 female) principals selected by purposeful sampling in the Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Western regions of UAE. The study used descriptive statistics, t-tests and thematic analysis to evaluate, analyse and triangulate the responses from both data sources. Findings from the MLQ survey conducted revealed that school leaders in Abu Dhabi use both transformational and transactional leadership styles and rarely use the laissez-faire approach. However, from the interview responses, school principals favoured what could be described as more of the use of transformational leadership styles than transactional leadership approaches. While women reported displaying more features of transactional leadership based on higher mean ranking of individual constructs, the t-test results showed that male leaders self-reported higher levels of transformational leadership, which was statistically significant (however, the teachers showed the opposite perception of their leaders, according to mean rankings). The study also shows that traditional and cultural barriers, such as family commitments and culturally learned gender discrimination affect leadership aspirations of women while training, skills and monetary rewards play a role in leadership effectiveness and school improvement. This thesis concludes with recommendations for practice, improving educational leadership in the UAE, and in reducing the real and perceived social barriers to women’s full participation in the UAE workforce and leadership. Some of the practical implications include providing preparatory training for school leadership and in-service professional development, reforming the recruitment process, promoting gender equality in leadership participation and empowering women in authority.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Education, gender, women, leadership, United Arab Emirates (UEA).
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Carroll, Dr. Mike and Lido, Dr. Catherine
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mrs. Mariam Alhammadi
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-41223
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 May 2019 08:25
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 22:46
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.41223

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