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Women Leading in Silence in Papua New Guinea Higher Education

The Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (National Goals and Directive Principles, the Preamble of the PNG Constitution, 1975) and the National Gender Equity Policy (2003) advocate for the increase of women's representation in educational leadership positions in higher education institutions. However, that has not been the case because leadership opportunities have not been fully extended to the women academics in the higher education sector. This research explored the experiences of women in formal leadership positions and aspiring women leaders. The study examined what influenced women's access to leadership roles within the higher education in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and how this impacted their career advancement within the leadership structure. It also explored the beliefs and perceptions women held towards leadership, and investigated what factors influenced these. This research used a qualitative approach to gather data in Papua New Guinea from April - June 2009. The interviews were conducted with five women who were in formal leadership positions and eight aspiring women leaders in one university. Data was analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. A major finding was that the socio-cultural context had a powerful influence on women's educational leadership experiences in PNG. It impacted on women's values and beliefs in leadership which were significantly influenced by the Christian and Melanesian cultural value systems. As a result, women associated leadership with collaborative and servant leadership approaches. Some key findings illustrated how power was wielded over women in family settings, and through 'big man' leadership which in turn, impacted women's leadership aspirations. Furthermore, the appointment process and the lack of support systems such as mentoring and networking for women in the institution disadvantaged women to progress in their careers. There were other factors such as gender discrimination, the challenges of balancing family/work and lack of confidence which created barriers for women's advancement to leadership positions. Overall, this study has shown that Papua New Guinea patriarchal society by large has effects on the women educational leaders in the higher education sector.
Type of thesis
Vali, K. S. (2010). Women Leading in Silence in Papua New Guinea Higher Education (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4330
The University of Waikato
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