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Once again I read ("No knees, thanks, just the hot seat," TES, May 12) about the difficulties that women have in gaining promotion to headship and of the supposed "female management style" with its emphasis on "negotiation and avoidance of conflict".

Yet once again I turn to the job adverts for secondary deputy heads in the same edition and find an advert clearly intended to warn male readers that the school intends to recruit a woman. There is a well-established code for this - "The post arises on the retirementpromotion of Mrs Bloggs".

The frequency of this in adverts or subsequent job details makes it clear that there is widespread, if unlawful, positive discrimination at the level of deputy headteacher where schools are fearful of being criticised for not having a woman in the senior team.

While I accept that it is difficult for women to gain the same experience as men at a lower level, I believe it is far easier for a woman, who is determined, to obtain a senior position.

I also smile at the image of the female head ruling by consensus. The female head I know is a notorious bully, adept at driving her staff to nervous breakdowns and ruling the school by imperious decree.

A (female) reader Name and address supplied

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