The career aspirations of women and men primary school teachers in the Australian Capital Territory

  • Rosemary Richards

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This study set out to document and compare differences in career paths and career aspirations between women and men primary school teachers in the ACT. The study wished to confirm in the ACT, the kinds of differences between career patterns well documented elsewhere and to go beyond this to an exploration of why these differences persist and the implications of them. A questionnaire with factual items on teachers' career backgrounds and open-ended questions on teachers' attitudes was sent to a random sample of teachers in ACT government primary schools within the four cells made by the two dichotomous criteria of women and men, promoted and non-promoted. Data was tallied, categorized, and despite the small sample, statistically significant differences were found: Women take more and different kinds of leave; women teach the younger children but have greater teaching experience across the grades; in terms of intending to stay in their career, women have a greater commitment to teaching than men. Women are more negative towards promotion and express career ambition in professionally oriented terms, i.e. in terms of children and teaching. Men, particularly those promoted, express career ambitions in extrinsic, promotional terms. Women have high career satisfaction; promoted men are the most dissatisfied. In contrast with promoted men, non-promoted men come from metropolitan areas and have less extrinsic and more child-centred career aspirations. Teachers' attitudes to grades were studied: grades 5/6 were the most sought after for promotional purposes, had the highest status yet were considered to be relatively easy to teach. The early years had least value in promotional terms, lower status and were the most difficult to teach. The system needs to re-appraise definitions and assumptions about teachers' careers in general and women's role as a committed group of professional teachers. Teachers disinterested in conventional career ambitions, most of whom are women, are undervalued while decision-making is in the hands of non-practitioners in male-dominated hierarchical structures.
    Date of Award1982
    Original languageEnglish

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