Women and the Teaching Profession

Exploring the Feminisation Debate

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The debates on women and teaching have been wide ranging and, in some cases, contentious. They have included reviews of why the profession can become gender imbalanced in favour of women, the impacts of this on learning processes and student education, and the implications on women’s overall empowerment within society and the economy.

Most of the research to date has concentrated on developed countries, such as the UK, Australia and Canada, where women have been a significant majority in the teaching workforce for decades. This study looks at how the teacher feminisation debate applies in developing countries. Drawing on the experiences of Dominica, Lesotho, Samoa, Sri Lanka and India, it provides a strong analytical understanding of the role of female teachers in the expansion of education systems, and the surrounding gender equality issues.

Co-published with UNESCO.



Debating the Trends and Issues

This chapter will attempt to address some of the core trends that have been outlined by the statistical analysis in Chapter 3, looking more closely at the underlying trends and issues that characterise female teacher numbers in the selected countries. In addition to the statistical data presented, all five countries conducted qualitative investigations to varying degrees as a means of unpacking socio-economic, cultural and political perspectives. This involved empirical research in four of the case study countries – Samoa, Lesotho, Sri Lanka and Dominica – that included questionnaires and interviews with teachers, principals, administrators, parents and students. India – with its unique comparative analysis of the very different examples of Kerala and Rajasthan – offered other insights into the issues through a review of secondary research that has been conducted in both states and at the national level.


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