Teachers' careers, leadership and gender equity in health and physical education

Webb, Louisa. (2002). Teachers' careers, leadership and gender equity in health and physical education PhD Thesis, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland.

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
THE17206.pdf Full text application/pdf 25.69MB 4
Author Webb, Louisa.
Thesis Title Teachers' careers, leadership and gender equity in health and physical education
School, Centre or Institute School of Human Movement Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2002
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Doune Macdonald
Bob Lingard
Total pages 438
Collection year 2002
Language eng
Subjects L
330103 Sociology of Education
749905 Gender aspects of education
749999 Education and training not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
The focus of this research, as outlined in Chapter One of the thesis, was teachers' careers and leadership in the subject of Health and Physical Education (HPE) in Queensland secondary schools. Specifically, the section of the career under investigation was the movement between teacher and the subject-based leadership role of Head of Department (HOD). This research investigated the process of attaining leadership through the negotiation of a career in teaching HPE. One particular characteristic of leadership within HPE currently, is that it is predominantly male. Data from the Queensland Department of Education (1996, 1999b, 2001c) illustrate that the number of female HPE HODs (13.5 - 15%) is well below the figure for female HODs across all subjects (42%). This is second only to Science (11%) in terms of the lowest female HOD representation compared to teacher representation.

In response to these statistics and the relevant literature reviewed in Chapter Two of the thesis, the main research question was "Why do females hold so few HOD positions in HPE in Queensland secondary schools?" In order to investigate this issue the following sub-questions were also addressed:
• Do the culture and context of HPE differently influence male and female HPE teachers' aspirations for leadership?
• What factors influence the career decisions and opportunities for female and male HPE teachers?
• Do the experiences of male and female HPE HODs differ?
• Do female HPE HODs have different leadership behaviours to male HPE HODs?

All the details of conducting the research, including epistemology, theoretical perspective, methodology and methods are outlined in detail in Chapter Three. In Phase One of the research, a questionnaire was administered to all HPE staff in Queensland secondary schools. In Phase Two of the research, 17 case studies of HPE staff were completed using interviews, member checks, non-participant observation, document review, and theme identification through coding. The data were also analysed for the discursive effects of power working in, on and through institutions and cultural and social practices through the techniques of surveillance, normalisation, exclusion, classification, distribution, individualisation, totalisation and regulation (Gore, 1998).

The results of the two parts of the research project are described and discussed in Chapters Four to Six. Chapter Four focuses exclusively on the results of the questionnaire. With 556 responses (a response rate of over 50%) there was a high level of statistical power and a large enough sample for inferential statistics. Chapter Five introduces the interview participants and summarises their career paths. Chapter Six incorporates both the qualitative and quantitative data into the discussion of the relevant data themes and extends the discussion to consider the theoretical concepts of power, subjectivities and embodiment that are central in poststructural feminist theory and help to explain the subtle effects that contribute towards the under-representation of women in leadership. Chapter Seven synthesises all the results and discussion in addressing the research questions as a conclusion to the thesis.

The questionnaire found that females and males had the same level of aspiration to leadership and the same top three career barriers including issues of time and mobility. This raises questions about dualistic frameworks and indicates that some discourses of work are equally shaping women's and men's experiences. There were, however, significant differences in other issues that are common in the literature on women's careers, such as restricted application patterns and exclusion from male-dominated networks.

Subtle differences between men and women that contribute to gendered patterns of leadership become more evident when considering the concepts of power, subjectivities and embodiment. Despite the many similarities that were found between the male and female participants, powerful discourses of gendered behaviour were evident in the interaction between sport and HPE, including the colonisation of space by dominant masculinities. Predominantly the female participants expressed experiences of gendered expectations about behaviour and issues with the embodied nature of HPE teachers' work. It was proposed that in the context where the HPE teachers' body is a tool of their work, that a sense of "magnified embodiment" may be a catalyst that exacerbates career barriers for female HPE teachers. The marginal status and the resource management demands of HPE were also considered as catalysts.

The recurring theme throughout the discussion, and summarised in the concluding chapter, was that some results challenged gender dualistic ways of thinking about HPE teachers careers and leadership yet some results indicated ways that powerful dominant discourses still shape gendered patterns. Even in these cases, however, there were many and complex discourses that were negotiated by individuals in their specific contexts. An understanding of careers as complex, negotiated, unique and non-linear would support a call for greater flexibility in what is understood as a teaching career. Policy makers need to acknowledge and support multiple career constructions that are particularly sensitive to time constraints and that he outside a traditionally male, modernist career pathway.
Keyword Physical education teachers -- Queensland
Women teachers -- Queensland
Women teachers -- Queensland -- Promotions
Sexism in education -- Queensland
Career development -- Queensland

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:15:05 EST