In Malaysia, gender stereotypes pertaining to characteristics of male and female headmasters’ leadership style persist. Male headmasters are perceived as dominant but flexible while female counterparts are austere and strict. Nevertheless, these assumptions are not based on facts but personal experience. Based on this premise, this study investigated these gender differences among male and female headmasters. Using qualitative approach, twelve participants from a rural district in Malaysia are interviewed using open-ended questions over a period of six months. Interview protocols were verified by an expert. The interview transcriptions were coded and categorized. Two experts were chosen as the inter-rater for the themes generated. Based on the themes generated, it was discovered that there were no distinctions between male and female headmasters’ leadership styles. Both genders showed efforts to build relation with teachers, students and the community. Nevertheless, male headmasters were more susceptible to informal settings in building relationship than female headmasters. It was also clear that previous training and experience as senior teacher determined the strict approach to leadership. What was apparent was that female headmasters placed tidiness of the school as important and have the ‘motherly’ approach towards the teachers and students.
Leadership Styles, School Headmasters, Gender Differences