Ms Sbongimpilo Mdabe, of Umbumbulu was awarded her Master’s in Education for her research that explored how gender-related barriers affect and influence female principals’ leadership experiences.
‘Being a woman from a rural area, where women are educated purely to find a job and not to contribute to the academic world through furthering their studies, this achievement goes to other rural women. I want them to know that your background is not a limit, but a stepping stone to greater things,’ she said.
The study found that female principals’ leadership experiences are influenced by their upbringing, their school context, and the level of development they received as post-level one educators. It also showed that poor implementation of gender policies in education contributes to the hurdles that women encounter in educational leadership.
‘Women also need mentorship to enhance their leadership experiences. Female principals experienced the glass ceiling at three levels: societal, organisational and individual. Despite the barriers, they were resilient leaders who found ways to mitigate the obstacles,’ noted Mdabe.
The findings suggest the ‘need to create more support platforms for female principals to reduce contextual factors that contribute to women’s difficulties in their leadership practices.’
Mdabe is the founder of a social sciences club called Sisterhood Club at Our Lady of the Rosary Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mdabe thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support and encouragement. She plans to pursue her PhD at UKZN and continue to serve as a source of inspiration to women.