Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Crowley


The purpose of this study was to analyse and explain the effect of the introduction of equal employment opportunity policy on the Ministry of Education with reference to the promotion of women teachers to the position of principal during the period 1985 to 1991. This research represents a case study of the Western Australian government primary and secondary school system conducted through a review of relevant government and Ministry of Education policies, analysis of employment statistics and interviews with key policy actors. Four questions which directed the research sought a conceptual framework through which to analyse and explain events, policies and outcomes. The study claims that while there existed an expectation amongst women teachers that equal employment opportunity would increase the number of women principals by removing both the direct and indirect barriers that prevented their promotion, there is no evidence that this was ever the intention of either the Ministry of Education or the Western Australian State Labor government. The evidence from this study suggests that equal employment opportunity policies have continued the subordination of women in the State government school system by the subsuming of their interests by more powerful forces of an economic, administrative and political kind both internal and external to the State government school system. Whilst in the past the barriers to promotion for women were formal, direct and visible, the application of equal employment opportunity has created a cloak of invisibility to the forces that operate against the promotion of women within the State government school system. The implications of this study are firstly that unless there is some external intervention the numbers of women principals will continue to decline. Secondly until women teachers achieve political power, the likelihood of changing the current culture of the Western Australian government school system to ensure that women are promoted to the position of principal, is remote .