Women Educational Leaders in Tertiary Education in Oman: Enablers, Challenges and Coping Strategies
thesisposted on 06.11.2017, 15:43 by Anfal Nasser Humaid Alwahaibi
Although more women than men are entering higher education worldwide, their representation in senior educational administrative positions is paltry (Oram-Stering, 2015). This is also true in the Gulf state of Oman. Despite the enormous advancement made by women in the field of higher education, their ability to leverage their educational success to obtain senior faculty positions and progress their careers, while navigating the challenges posed by socio-cultural and religious practices and discourses in Oman, appears limited. Building on previous research in this area, this study explores the barriers faced by women academics as they progress to leadership positions, and exposes the experiences of Omani female leaders who have successfully accessed leadership opportunities in higher education. The study aims to understand and highlight the reasons for women’s uneven advancement to high-ranking positions in Oman’s higher education institutions. In addition, it investigates contiguous factors that qualify some women for consideration for senior management positions, aiming to capture the views of current executives, their backgrounds and other characteristics pertinent to leadership roles. A qualitative approach was deemed appropriate for this study, covering educational policy and administration by examining organisational and structural changes in addition to individual growth and development. One-to-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 female faculty members to attain the necessary data, providing a unique opportunity to examine the experiences of women as both faculty members and administrators, and to understand the ongoing gender imbalance within the study context. The results of the study highlight key themes including sociocultural practices, motherhood, religious interpretations, personal attributes, institutional policies and conceptualisations of gender and leadership in the workplace. Furthermore, the study offers important insights to assist female academics seeking access to leadership positions in higher education. Moreover, it could benefit policy makers seeking to formulate plans to encourage women to pursue leadership roles in higher education.