Female teachers' experiences of senior male colleagues' exercising of power in schools
Women in South Africa are discriminated against in various areas of their lives, specifically in the workplace where the power dynamics between men and women are not equally distributed. This qualitative research study in a critical phenomenological research paradigm has allowed me to explore, describe, explain and gain an understanding of the nature of female teachers‟ lived experiences of senior male colleagues‟ exercising of power. It has also allowed me to critically challenge and question female teachers‟ lived experiences by interpreting and making meaning or the power conundrum within a school context. Using a qualitative research design and methodology, I interrogated the power hierarchy in schools by initiating critical dialogue with the participants. This study serves as a voice for female teachers‟ lived experiences regarding the power conundrum. Data was generated by 16 purposefully selected female teachers from various primary and secondary schools in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district in the North-West Province, more specifically the Matlosana area. The data generation phases consist of two consecutive phases each with different stages. The first phase concerns the photo-elicitation-narratives (written). This is followed by individual photo-elicitation-interviews during the second phase. The data is analysed by means of interpretive phenomenology analysis (IPA). Thereafter themes and categories are identified, and verified during a consensus meeting with independent coders. Two main themes are identified: Theme one is that female teachers experience power as a behaviour that has the potential to evoke feelings that are (im)balanced, thus power evokes feelings of either being nurtured or feelings that are seen as degrading or destructive in nature. Theme two reflects female teachers‟ suggestions of promoting their own well-being. As wellbeing evokes a sense of meaningfulness and belonging in the workplace, it can lead to positive work relationships. When power is misused or abused in the workplace, it results in workplace bullying and abusive behaviour, which has a negative effect not only on employees‟ work performance, but also on their personal life and own health. If the detrimental effects of this phenomenon of power in a school context are ignored, female teachers will continue to experience loss of self-esteem and work withdrawal, and show signs of increased depression as well as high stress levels.
- Education