Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Exploring the Relationship between Gender and Acceptance of Authority at an Arab School in Israel

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Exploring the Relationship between Gender and Acceptance of Authority at an Arab School in Israel

Article excerpt

Introduction

The issues of Arab women acquiring higher education and the feminization of education have brought about a remarkable increase in the rate of Arab women in the teaching force and with it, slow entrance into management jobs in education (e.g.; Abu-Baker, 2006; Hertz-Lazarowitz & Shapira, 2005). The higher positions in education management are still a mostly male domain with only a small number of women reaching these high positions (Najmi-Yosef, 2012). The current research deals with the dilemmas in the relationship between gender and acceptance of authority, by examining the differences in teachers of both genders' attitudes toward accepting authority from principals of both genders in the Arab educational system in Israel.

Previous research has indicated the patriarchal nature of Arab society (A'li & Da'as, 2016), with all sources of power and authority belonging to men; in fact, men and the elderly are favored in this society, while women learn to respect and obey their fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles, and sometimes even their cousins (e.g., A'li & Da'as, 2016; Joseph, 1993). Therefore, the job of the school principal is still perceived as a strong masculine job (Arar & Shapira, 2011; Kofman, Abu- Baker, & Sa'ar, 2012). Moreover, in socialization processes, society educates for hierarchical j ob distribution. According to this approach, men, as the executive and rational gender, are supposed to obtain executive positions, such as management jobs (Abu-Asbah, Abu-Nasra & Abu-Baker 2014). Socialization theory tends to divide the social structure into two spheres, public and private. The public sphere belongs to men and they control it with an iron fist, while the private sphere is for women (A'li & Gordoni, 2009; Abu-Hussain & Essawi, 2014; Abu- Hussain, 2015). Management jobs in general and school (3) management, in particular, are part of the public sphere, in Arab Israeli society, and therefore, women who try to enter this sphere can expect many obstructions, both exposed and hidden.

There are two important issues underlying the research on female leadership in education: the first deals with the difficulties and obstructions in the path to the appointment of women to management positions. This issue has been discussed in the professional management literature in many western countries in the last 20 years, but it is only recently that research on female leadership has received attention (Kochan, Spencer, & Mathwees, 2000; Oplatka & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2006; Shapira, Arar & Azaiza, 2011). The role of the principal is deemed suitable for men, despite the fact that Arab women teachers are as skilled as men teachers, if not more so. Even when a woman excels over a man in the performance of a management job, she still has a difficult struggle against male principals, who receive top priority (Arar & Shapira, 2011, p. 80). This priority stems from the patriarchal nature of Arab society, resulting in men being preferred over women as school principals.

The second approach deals with gender difficulties after entering the job, such as the connection between the principal's gender and the teaching staffs acceptance of his/her authority. Although previous research has dealt with the difficulties faced by women principals, the link between gender and accepting authority has not been examined and is not completely understood (e.g., Nerdi, 2007; Shapira et al., 2011).

The current research focuses mainly on the second issue: the acceptance of a woman principal's authority by the teaching staff at schools, and examines differences in men and women teachers' attitudes toward men and women principals at schools in the Israeli education system. Researchers have argued for the necessity of expanding the research on Arab women as principals in Israel, which at present remains scant (e.g. A'li & Da'as, 2016; Arar & Abu- Rabia-Queder, 2011). …

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