Women in leadership: Insights from female principals of rural secondary schools in Vhembe District of South Africa

Livhalani Bridget Sinyosi, Onoriode Collins Potokri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Gender predisposition towards female leaders within the South African context remains a problem and compelling issue, particularly in rural settings, which are often marginalised and overlooked. Guided by the transformational leadership theory, this article explored the experiences of South African female principals in managing secondary schools in the Vhembe District of Limpopo. A profoundly traditional and patriarchal society characterises this rural setting. Hence, a qualitative research approach and a case study design were used. Ten female principals from ten (10) randomly selected secondary schools in the Vhembe District were purposively selected to serve as participants. Through semi-structured interviews, data were gathered from the sampled participants. Findings from the article reveal that patriarchy still plays a role in disadvantaging women from effectively assuming their duties as leaders. Most of the participants–female principals are subjected to gender bias and thus, unproductive, impact the cooperation from learners, parents, teachers, the community, and the Department of Education officials. Despite unpleasant experiences, female leaders in this article demonstrate selflessness in their daily leadership tasks and routines. Furthermore, they are inspirational and serve as role models to all they had relationships with for the transformation and change they desire in their schools. To the sampled principals, being selfless and inspirational is their leadership strength. One way of the few mentioned becoming a leader one aspires to.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1651-1670
Number of pages20
JournalPertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Gender equality
  • School management
  • Transformation theory
  • Women leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance


Dive into the research topics of 'Women in leadership: Insights from female principals of rural secondary schools in Vhembe District of South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this