Women and Leadership: a review of literature from the education sector

1. Introductory summary

There is much shared history between churches and educational institutions including the people who work in them, those for whom they have a special concern and their missions to serve the wider community and promote social cohesion. Many Christian organizations, including the Methodist Church, have indicated a wish to look further at women in leadership in the church and the issue of under-represented groups in leadership (for example, Green, 2014; Jones, 2015; Methodist Church, 2002, 2003, 2005), and the education sector has been concerned with this matter with increasing interest over the past couple of decades (Coleman, 2012; Ozga, 1993). Yet whilst reports from both sectors contain exhortations to ‘make things better’, ways forward seem less easy to implement and the same experiences and frustrations often re-emerge in research across the decades (Coate et al., 2015).

This review of the literature mainly from education settings explores the terrain of women in leadership and management in order to extract useful insights. It asks what thwarts these good intentions and how a more inclusive leadership might be achieved by exploring four major themes:
i) The representation of women within the leadership structures,
ii) Where women are represented within the structures,
iii) How leadership is exercised by women,
iv) The place of leadership development.