When female leaders outnumber men: the decline of male school principals in Australia

Kevin McGrath

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    While the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions has been an important marker of gender inequality internationally, organisations may be unprepared for the possibility that such representation may be reversed. Focusing specifically on the education labour market in New South Wales, Australia, in this paper I examine the gender composition of school leadership positions over time. Drawing on workplace data from Government schools, I find that the representation of female primary school principals has increased from 33.8% in 1998 to 66.4% in 2018. Female secondary school principals have similarly increased from 22.0% in 1998 to 48.4% in 2018. Although an overall decline of male teachers has been observed in this context, and despite advantageous promotion rates for male staff, the data indicate that declining male participation is sharper in leadership positions than in classroom teaching positions. These findings raise important questions about organisational responses to shifting markers of gender inequality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)604-612
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Gender Studies
    Issue number5
    Early online date16 Jul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


    • female principals
    • male teachers
    • gender equality
    • workforce diversity
    • school leaders


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