England’s schools are "missing" 1,700 female headteachers because too many women are either discriminated against or do not put themselves forward for the role, it is claimed.
According to the Future Leaders Trust, official figures show that while 74 per cent of teachers are women, just 65 per cent of headships are held by women.
The issue was the focus of a conference in London yesterday, organised by the trust and Women into School Headship (Wish), which looked at why it was harder for women to become headteachers.
Kate Chhatwal, chief programme officer at the trust, said: “Women heads can face discriminatory attitudes from governors who are expecting to employ a middle-aged man, but they can also self-deselect. Those with young children often feel the job of a headteacher is incompatible with their family life or they may lack the necessary confidence.”
Government numbers show that in all English state schools, 26 per cent of the workforce are male (118,100) and 74 per cent are female (330,000). Looking at headteachers, 35 per cent are male (7,300) and 65 per cent are female (13,800).
If headships reflected the workforce then 74 per cent of heads would be female and there would be 1,739 more female heads, Future Leaders claims, adding that the picture has not changed in five years.
Baroness Sally Morgan, former chair of Ofsted, said it was a “waste of talent” not having women in headship positions.
“Organisations should be led by the best people and it’s a waste of talent to have exceptional women working beneath their full potential,” Baroness Morgan said. “Too many challenging schools struggle to recruit a headteacher and this event will encourage more women to step forward confidently to play a part in improving our education system.”