Representation of Women in Leadership Roles in Education

What is the Representation Problem?

Whilst women leaders are well represented in middle leader roles, they are disproportionately underrepresented in senior roles in educational organisations globally, despite women making up the majority of the education workforce.

 Quotation Abigail Adams Representation 1

'To break a glass ceiling, we must first have the possibility to access opportunities, be given the time to showcase skillset, and know that the other side of the ceiling exists for us to take up space in it.'  (Sheree Atcheson, Forbes, 13th May 2021)

Through our campaign to increase representation of women in education leadership, we are:

Offering #WomenEd cohorts for women who are part of a senior leadership team in England to gain a Senior Leaders Masters / Apprenticeship in partnership with the National College for Education

Offering events and videos to support women to move forward in their leadership journey

Representation Achievements

Our Achievements

Published a wide range of blogs and videos about gender assumptions, leadership mindset and gaining leadership posts

Supported school business leaders as leaders in education

Supported middle leaders who aspire to senior leadership

Encouraged women to be board members

Encouraged Early Career Teachers to think about becoming leaders

Shared videos of events about:    

Held a panel discussion at our 2021 global unconference asking ‘Is Headship worth it?’ in the UK and globally as well as in our 2020 global unconference

Held a panel discussion on Leadership Development through the lens of a woman at our 2021 global unconference

Hosted a presentation on how educational leaders can make recruitment less biased

Written a chapter in 10%Braver: Inspiring Women to Lead Education

Written about how to attract more women to senior leadership

Case 1

‘I had been shortlisted for several deputy head roles but hadn’t managed to get past the final hurdle - the interview. I reached out for help online and Vivienne Porritt kindly offered me a free interview prep session. This, alongside some free coaching from another fabulous woman, Vanessa Whitcombe, built my confidence in a big way. Vivienne helped me make my application even stronger and gave me valuable advice on how to present my strengths and the impact I had achieved. 

I start my new role as vice principal in a great school in April! Thank you WomenEd,  I hope I can pay it forward.’'

Madeleine Fresko-Brown @m_x_f

Case 2

'I watched your webinar on writing effective applications for leadership roles as I had lost my confidence in my letter writing skills after a couple of failed applications. I recently saw an advertisement for a Deputy Headteacher role, so I watched your webinar again.

I followed your advice and, not only did I find it stopped me re-drafting the letter endlessly, but I have also secured an interview for the role. A huge thank you for the advice and guidance as I don’t think I would have had the confidence to write a letter in the way I did without it.’


Representation Articles and Papers

Articles and Papers

New Research: Women More Effective Than Men In All Leadership Measures (Forbes, March 2023)

Increasing Female Representation in School Leadership (NASSP, 2023)

The Power Of Momentum Mentoring For Women In Education Leadership (Vicki Phillips, Forbes, March 2023)

How to improve gender equality in the workplace (2022)

Women in the Workplace study: The state of women in Corporate America (2022)

Girls don’t want to be leaders. No wonder, when you see the violent abuse they could face (Guardian, October 2022)

All Talk And No Action: Why DEI Efforts Are Falling Short (Forbes, September 2022)

Essays on Equality Covid-19: the road to a gender-equal recovery (, 2021)

Male teachers 'twice as likely to want headship' (TES, Catherine Lough, 27th October 2021)

Academy CEO diversity audit: More women bosses, but work to do (, 1st October 2021)

The coded language that holds women back at work (BBC, 4th August 2021)

Women Helping Women? it's Complicated (Forbes, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, 16th July, 2021)

How women have launched a school leadership revolution (TES, Rowena Hackwood, Carol Dewhurst & Catherine Anwar, 12th July 2021)

How can we help more women to become school leaders? (TES, Sam Gorse, 1st April 2021)

Examining Women in Educational Leadership in the Teaching Profession in Canada (CTF/FCE, 3rd March 2021)

Research: Men Get More Actionable Feedback Than Women (Harvard Business Review, 10th February 2021)

Future Generations and Female Role Models (ECIS, 7th January 2021)

Women in the Workplace 2021 (McKnsey, 27th September 2021)

Future of work: How female leaders are transforming the workplace (hrdconnect, 16th June 2021)

Diversity and Inclusion in the FTSE All-Share (, June 2021)

That advice to women to ‘lean in’, be more confident… it doesn’t help, and data show it (The Conversation, Leonora Risse, 13th October 2020)

Leading by Example: Where are the Female Leaders in Education? (, 4th May 2020)

How Men Can Help To Advance Women In The Workplace (Forbes, Susan Madsen, 9th January 2020)

Women, we've got to stop saying sorry at work (TES, 25th September 2019)

You Don’t Need to Meet Every Qualification to Apply for a Job (HBR, Art Markman, 20th May 2019)

The Glass Ceiling Index (The Economist, 8th March 2019)

Language in school job ads puts women off headteacher roles (The Guardian, 19th June 2018)

Australia - Barriers & Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership (, 2016)

Unentitled Mindset (

Why are women still left out of leadership positions? (Gates Foundation)

The Facts about Women and Leadership in Canada (

Alberta's Teacher Association works to address gender imbalance (ATA News, Kim Clement)

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