The Barriers to Career Advancement of Female Teachers in Turkey and Their Levels of Burnout

Article excerpt

This study was designed to determine whether career barriers faced by female teachers working in Turkish elementary schools predict their levels of burnout. Although the numbers of male and female teachers are approximately equal, the number of male teachers who move onto administrative roles is much greater than that of female teachers (Celikten, 2005; Oplatka, 2001; Otaran, Sayin, Guven, Gurkaynak, & Atakul, 2003). The situation is the same in Turkey where there are approximately 390,000 teachers in elementary schools and, of these, 172,000 are female and 218,000 are male. Yet, females make up only 3% of school principals (Otaran et al., 2003). Although this inequality is not as great in some European countries as it is in Turkey, it is still in favor of male teachers. Some reasons for this imbalance are provided below, based on a literature review.

The concept of the glass ceiling, which results from people's attitudes and the prejudices within organizations, is defined as invisible and insurmountable barriers that exist between women and levels of top management and that prevent women from making progress (Celikten, 2005).

Another reason for this inequality is barriers resulting from societal gender stereotypes. The gender stereotypes of some cultures are based on the idea that women are naturally different from men, and therefore, that men should carry out the job of educational administration; an idea that may impede women's career advancement (Porat, 1991). Stereotypes about gender create the foundation for the prejudice preventing women from being promoted to managerial positions. Education is one of the fields in which these stereotypes are commonly seen (Usluer, 2000, p. 2).

In addition to the barriers identified above, in Turkey barriers originating in the family are another of the obstacles preventing women from occupying administrative positions. The Turkish societal belief that a woman's top priorities are motherhood and becoming a good spouse, a belief that exists in both cultural and structural perceptions of career development, may negatively influence women's process of career advancement by reproducing and preserving barriers to career development for women (Evetts, 2000; Rimmer & Rimmer, 1997).

Just as the perceived glass ceiling and barriers resulting from societal and family gender stereotypes create obstacles to women's holding administrative positions, women's own points of view about education administration create another obstacle. Families in Turkey attach more importance to male children from birth and females have more difficulties in making personal decisions. In addition, Turkish female children are brought up as passive individuals, and the way these children are raised can have an effect on their choices of jobs (Merle, 1999, p. 37; Zafarullah, 2000). All of these reasons cause teaching to be perceived as a woman's job, while educational administration positions are seen as a male-only domain.

School and environmental factors are an important perceived barrier for women's advancement. The societal norms and beliefs emphasizing that men should be administrators have a great influence on parents of school children who prefer male administrators--or female administrators who behave like men--because parents wanting to control their children consider that a serious atmosphere is created by authoritarian administrators, perceived as the male gender stereotype (Smulyan, 2000). Therefore, some families have the view that both the teachers and administrators in the school should be male.

Education, working hours, age, and economic and marital status all play an important role in the process of women's career development. Women who have children may focus their attention on bringing up children and put aside any aspirations to a career in administration. They may delay pursuing a career outside the home until after their children have reached a certain age. …