Purpose – The under-representation of women in the leadership of secondary schooling is a problem common to many developing countries, raising issues of social justice and sustainable development. It has its roots in societal understandings about leadership, the schooling and career aspirations of girls, the organizational characteristics of the education system, and the expectations and preparation of teachers for leadership positions. The purpose of this paper is to identify factors, both specific to the country and common across cultures, contributing to the low numbers of female teachers leading Ugandan secondary schools.
Design/methodology/approach – A survey of 62 female secondary school teachers from six coeducational schools in different areas of Uganda, is used to establish leadership aspirations and teacher perceptions of the factors helping or hindering them in realizing these aspirations.
Findings – The paper reveals that the majority of female teachers surveyed aspired to school leadership, but few had positioned themselves to do well in the competitive application process. Many thought the process corrupt and did not expect to get the support of their current school administrator.
Originality/value – The results of this paper support existing research worldwide that suggests leadership preparation for women should be gender specific. Women teachers need help to visualize a career path to leadership, encouraged to gain relevant experience, and given training that builds confidence in practical school management skills and builds on personal leadership skills.