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Shenton AK 2004. Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22: 63-7.

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The Experiences of Female Principals in the Gauteng Province

1Faculty of Education: Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

2Department of Education Leadership and Management: University of Johannesburg

American Journal of Educational Research. 2015, Vol. 3 No. 7, 813-821
DOI: 10.12691/education-3-7-4
Copyright © 2015 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Michèle Schmidt, Raj Mestry. The Experiences of Female Principals in the Gauteng Province. American Journal of Educational Research. 2015; 3(7):813-821. doi: 10.12691/education-3-7-4.

Correspondence to: Raj  Mestry, Department of Education Leadership and Management: University of Johannesburg. Email:,


Gender bias towards South African female principals remains a problem and compelling issue. The South African Constitution addresses gender equality, yet women still do not experience equal rights in practice. Using a theory of intersectionality, this study highlights the experiences of three Coloured South African female principals and how they negotiated various challenges and obstacles that they were faced with in their day-to-day running of their schools. Using openended questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, it was found that the principals’ strong upbringing and family support, and sound educational background paved the way for them to become effective leaders despite numerous challenges. The results provide a significant contribution to the small body of literature employing intersectionality theory as well as the literature around female principals’ experiences in South Africa. Sub-intersectional themes emerged providing a deeper understanding of their experiences, challenges and successes. These contextual themes examine the impact of social networks that include family and friends as well as professionally and types of discrimination and stereotyping on their experiences as principals.