New IIEP publication examines the labyrinths women must navigate to reach leadership positions in education

29 May 2015


Lyndsay Bird Publication
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Lyndsay Bird Publication

IIEP is proud to announce its latest publication, A Matter of Right and Reason: Gender Equality in Educational Planning and Management, edited by Lyndsay Bird, Programme Specialist.


Research has found that nowhere in the world has gender equality been fully achieved. This is despite the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women being ratified by 187 out of 193 countries. Girls continue to be disadvantaged at school, and women face multiple barriers that often prevent them from reaching leadership positions.

According to research cited in the book in 11 European countries, ‘As of March 2012, women made up only 3.2 per cent of presidents and chairpersons, and held 13.7 per cent of board seats in a selection of major companies’.

The publication investigates the ‘labyrinth’ that women must navigate on the path to senior leadership positions in ministries of education. This includes overcoming the organizational and cultural barriers and circumventing the often biased political networks that frequently favour men.

The authors point out that, ‘Even in countries where women are well educated, excellently trained and prepared, have high aspirations, and are motivated to get senior jobs, they are seriously under-represented at the most senior level in corporations’.

The research indicates that likewise in the top leadership positions in education, women are similarly under-represented. Through case studies in Argentina and Kenya, this research highlights the many obstacles that women in ministries of education must overcome in order to achieve professional advancement. Some recommendations and strategies are also offered to ministries of education to encourage women to succeed more fully in the leadership positions they might aspire to.

Download the publication