Female managers responsible for running initial teacher training programmes at universities are finding themselves increasingly marginalised in their institutions, which have become more internally managerialist, according to a new study.
The women surveyed were “engaged in a struggle for survival individually and professionally”, with other senior managers seeing teacher training as a “thankless task”.
The paper, “Succumbing, surviving, succeeding? Women managers in academia”, published in the journal Gender in Management, says that although female managers have “broken through the glass ceiling”, this achievement “has come at a cost”.
Barbara Thompson, principal lecturer in childhood, social work and social care at the University of Chichester and author of the paper, told Times Higher Education that middle managers she spoke to for her research felt “beleaguered”.
Their “struggle” to survive in the profession is a prominent theme in the paper, as managers accommodate for the changes in the teacher training landscape. Dr Thompson notes that in her sample, men “seem to have left the management of teacher training, and management roles in ITT are being largely undertaken by women”.
“Pressures centred around greatly increased workloads caused by increased bureaucracy, frequently shifting quality assurance procedures and a lack of autonomy in carrying out their roles,” she said.
She added that leaders in ITT were having to shift their management values from “people-centred” to “finance-driven” to make teacher training more efficient.
Dr Thompson writes that one of the most distressing results of this efficiency drive is that senior managers have had to deal with the “fallout” caused by institutional restructuring and downsizing.
“Line managers appeared to see teacher training as a ‘thankless task’ and not even worthy of a permanent position,” Dr Thompson adds.
“All the women, both middle and senior managers and leaders, spoke of the need to reinvent themselves as ‘tougher’ and to have to operate in more directive ways than some of them felt comfortable with,” Dr Thompson told THE.