Little ladies should be seen and not heard: A study of gender bias in the communication of female educational leaders



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The purpose of this study was primarily to investigate the issue of communication in leadership and its impact on female educational leaders. This study has expanded present understanding of the perceptions associated with female leaders and their communication styles. It has also yield information on how female leaders could better address individuals within their organizations. Finally, this study examined the issues of communication based gender bias in leadership and explored possible recommendations which would benefit women, who are currently in, or advancing toward, leadership positions as principal or higher rank. The guiding questions of this research revolved around three central themes.

  1. In what ways do female educational leaders perceive that their approach in communication has affected their career advancement opportunities or leadership?
  2. In what ways have educational female leaders with atypical communication styles been viewed differently from men or women with typical communication styles?
  3. What do aspiring female leaders need to be aware of concerning communication if they seek career advancement opportunities? This study has added to the current body of literature on female leaders and shed light on the possible pitfalls and as well as advantages associated with communication. The need for research in the realm of female educational leaders stems from what was currently available or rather not available, in the field. A good portion of the research continued to investigate “the glass ceiling” and how this invisible barrier was restricting great female leaders. This study clarified how communication styles have restricted these leaders as well as who was holding the key to doors. It was the understanding of this researcher that some of the barriers were the biases associated with gender based communication. Through personal experience and study, the impact of communication on a female leaders’ success or opportunity for advancement must be studied and was studied during this research. The focus on female change agents, leadership communications and perceptions through a critical feminist perspective which was strongly rooted in a qualitative approach was the basis for this study. This research added to the body of knowledge available in female leadership and communication. This study laid the groundwork for women to analyze pit falls that were ahead of them, therefore allowing them the opportunity to adjust their approach or communication style in order to achieve success.



Gender studies, Educational leadership, Women in communication