Female teachers struggle to make Head

// 5 September 2006

Although women make up two-thirds of the teaching workforce, they are still too few women in managerial positions, according to a survey by the General Teaching Council of England.

As the Guardian reports, female teachers are held back by career gaps when they have children.

The stories are the same ones you heard about a myriad of professions and workplaces, but this is a tiny bit surprising because teaching is considered to be such a female-dominated profession.

Georgina (not her real name) has worked for four years at an Essex secondary school, where she was head of a small humanities department, combining management duties with A-level teaching. This year, she returned to work after a six-month maternity break. She had always planned to go back part-time, and had assumed she would return to her old job. But the head had other ideas. The colleague who had done the maternity cover was offered the job full-time and accepted it. Georgina has returned to work in a lower, and less well paid, capacity.

“It has been the most dreadful time,” she says. “I was on tablets for anxiety in the run-up to returning to school and I have also been on anti-depressants. And all that on top of the anxiety of leaving a small baby at home. I was very successful at my job and wanted to return, but I was blocked by a headteacher who would not deal with the issue properly. He even suggested that I should not be worrying about responsibility, and just go in to teach and have an easy life. Perhaps I was naive in assuming I would be able to return to the same status, but I do feel tremendously let down.

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