Increasing Women's Representation in School Leadership: A Promising Path Towards Improving Learning


Women are under-represented in leadership positions across multiple sectors, including politics, healthcare and business (UN Women, 2021; Krivkovich et al., 2018; ILO, 2020; Stone et al., 2019). The positive impacts of having women in leadership positions have been well documented. For instance, in rural India, having women at the head of the municipal council is associated with an improvement in the provision of public goods such as drinking water and roads (Chattopadhyay & Duflo, 2004). Municipalities under female leadership in Brazil had lower death and hospitalization rates during COVID-19 (Bruce et al., 2021). However, in the education sector, while there is growing literature on the benefits of female teachers on girls' educational outcomes (Sperling et al., 2015), the challenges and opportunities of female leadership in schools have not been sufficiently studied.

This evidence brief compiles emerging insights on the association between women school leaders and education outcomes. It also seeks to draw attention to the low representation of women in school leadership roles and the barriers that hinder women's access to these positions. Finally, this brief highlights the need for further research on gender and school leadership to identify policies and practices that can be implemented to increase women’s representation and scale high-quality management practices adopted by women to more schools to advance learning outcomes for children.