Principals' Beliefs: The Interface of Gender and Sector


  • John L. Collard



This article reports on a broad scale study of a balanced sample of male and female principals in Australia. It used questionnaire, interview, and historical data to explore the relationships between the perceptions and beliefs of principals, their gender, and other key contextual factors. Earlier claims that there are important and frequently overlooked differences in the cognitive frameworks of male and female leaders are confirmed. However, essentialist stereotypes are challenged by findings that factors such as level of schooling, institutional scale, and students' gender interact with and modify gender predispositions. Sectorial identity was found to be one of the most powerful sources of differences.¹ The findings call for sophisticated theoretical perspectives that acknowledge the interactive nature of principals' gender and organizational context.