Female Educational Leadership through an East-West Metaphor: A Journey


  • Virginia R. Heslinga Anna Maria College




fenale, educational leaders, metaphors, journey, intersections


 AbstractMeeting the global need for educational leaders presents challenges for every school system due to economic, style, role, and cultural differences. Recruiting leaders who can work through the challenges stands as a goal for every school regardless of gender, yet females are underrepresented in educational leadership globally. This article is based on three years of research and interviews with female educational leaders in China and the United States and explores the idea that words and phrases used by female leaders communicate gender identity, intersections between ethnicities, economic levels, and cultural priorities. The word that arose most often in the interview responses from 35 female educational leaders, and that was used metaphorically by female educational leaders from remote rural areas of China to the New York City metropolitan area, was journey. Keywords: intersections, female, educational leaders, metaphors, journey

Author Biography

Virginia R. Heslinga, Anna Maria College

Vrginia Heslinga, Ed. D., Associate Professor of  Humanities and Education, has taught since graduating with a language arts education degree from Marshall University, Huntington, WVA. She went on to earn a Masters degree in education from Widener, in Chester, PA, and completed her doctorate in education through the University of Phoenix, AZ in 2010. Her career has included years in elementary, middle, high school, college, and graduate teaching programs, public, private, charter, alternative, and religious schools. Since 2004, volunteering to provide in-service and professional training for teachers of English in remote regions around the world during her summers has heightened Virginia’s appreciation of cross cultural teaching and learning.       She has used six summers for research and teaching with the Amity Foundation NGO in China and for Provincial and City teacher training programs. Currently she continues her work in humanities and education at Anna Maria College, in Paxton, MA. Her dissertation, Life Experiences and Perceptions of Female Educational Leaders, required research and interviews in five provinces of China and five states in the United States. It was published with ProQuest, 2010. Her current research investigates pedagogical theories in action in a variety of cultures, relational practices in school systems, and introducing creative thinking to curriculum and systems heavily weighted toward memorizing and testing. Interests in ongoing learning have led her to participate in symposiums in technology in Boston, MA to global investigations of learning in Istanbul, Turkey.    Dr. Heslinga is a member of NCTE, and has received awards for Living the Mission (from Anna Maria College), Teacher of the Year (Middle Township Schools, CMCH, NJ). Her historical novel, Wounded Dove, was published in 2008. Dr. Heslinga does presentations for community groups, schools, local, and national conferences and has publications in paper and digital journals. She mentors students, student teachers, and faculty members, and serves as a member of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Anna Maria College in faculty development and Core Curriculum. 



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