Moving beyond narrow images of school leadership

We are really conscious that our work shows exactly what we – the collective ‘we’ as a profession – risk losing as a result of the restrictive images of what a leader looks and acts like.

We hear from participants about the myriad ways the explicit and implicit expectations of ‘looking like a leader’ have presented blockers towards who feels like they can aspire to leadership, who is given opportunities to lead, and who is supported to take up those opportunities.

This, we think, is an incredibly important aspect of our project. When we started, Pat and I knew we had shared experiences of pressures associated with ‘looking’ like a principal and we suspected that this was a wider phenomenon. Our fieldwork has borne this out. We have heard from hundreds upon hundreds of women who have shared their experiences. Every now and then – rarely, but it has happened a couple of times over the last couple of years – someone has told me they don’t ‘get’ this project. Why wardrobes? Why women in particular? Why focus on this? This post is an example of a deeply complex and abiding problem with school leadership that is highlighted by discussions around expectations of appearance, wardrobe, identity, and opportunity. Wardrobes give us a way into exploring some really wicked problems associated with school leadership.

In our recent book chapter, we wrote about some of the ways we can come to understand the experiences of women leaders by using wardrobe as a starting point. You can read our publication here. We know that our own experiences as white Australian women leaders are naturally going to differ significantly from the experiences of women who are of a different cultural background to us, and who experience different barriers than we did or continue to do. We wrote about the importance of having an intersectional lens and understanding of participants’ experiences. (Read more about Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and the development of the theory of intersectionality here.)

A colleague from the US, Dr Terri N. Watson, has written a forthcoming article in the Journal of Educational Administration and History where she talks about ‘performative wokeness’ and how we tend to use terms or phrases that make us feel like we’re calling out racist practices without actually naming those practices. Dr Watson’s work focuses on Black girls, education, and Black women leaders and you can access more information about her research here.

As I was reading Dr Watson’s article, it made me reflect on whether I was clear enough about what I was trying to get at in the original draft of this blog post. And I wasn’t. I was trying to discuss the fact that we know that there are systemic issues that still present blockers for us having a diverse principalship, but I didn’t name the issues. Racism, sexism, and ableism persist and they mean that the principalship remains largely homogenous, in Australia at least.

I wanted to share an article that highlights the need to have more open conversations about race and racism in educational leadership. It was written by Dr Edith Rusch and Associate Professor Sonya Horsford, and it’s openly accessible in the link below.

Rusch, E. A., & Horsford, S. D. (2009). Changing hearts and minds: The quest for open talk about race in educational leadership. International Journal of Educational Management.

I am writing this from Melbourne, Australia, where according to the latest TALIS data, Australia’s school leaders are largely white, and women continue to remain underrepresented in school leadership given the feminisation of the teaching profession.

If we continue to work with the idea that a leader has to look and behave a certain way, we are going to continue to perpetuate leadership that is largely white, middle-class, and denies opportunities to people who do not fit that mould. Pat, along with Jill Blackmore and Karin Barty has researched about this in the past– the ways selection panels continue to reproduce themselves (see Pat’s blog post about it here).

Those of us who are in positions of power – those who hire people, who promote people, who mentor people, who are part of the ‘tapping on the shoulder’ that still makes up so many of our school leadership hiring practices – have a responsibility to understand and acknowledge our own complicity in these systems and practices, and work to ensure we are not perpetuating the same cycles.

I wanted to share two articles: “When Feminism Is White Supremacy in Heels” written by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle as a starting point to think about “the type of behavior that rests under the guise of feminism only as long as it is comfortable, only as long it is personally rewarding, only as long as it keeps “on brand.” But if the history of this movement taught us anything, it is that intersectionality in feminism is vital.” 

And finally, I wanted to share this op-ed written by Dr Terri Watson, who pushes us further in “The Problem with Kindness” to think about how ‘kindness’ has been wrapped up in ‘glitzy’ easy to digest packages for educators.

We need to recognise and acknowledge the ways we benefit from current structures, and dismantle those structures. I finish with Flavia Dzodan’s famous essay “My feminism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit”.

If It Isn't Intersectional, It Isn't Feminism(Image: PopSugar)



We have decided to move to monthly blog posts where we examine some of the issues and findings related to our project in more depth. Our research project is ongoing and we are currently working on some new publications – stay tuned for more! 


Blurring the ‘leader’ and ‘home’ lines

A lot goes into the careful construction of what a person might project to the outside world. For the women in our study, we’ve spoken about how their morning routines give them a sense of constructing the ‘leader’ persona, and how they don the clothing and appearance of a ‘professional leader’ as part of getting ready. This can get them into the mindset of being ready for the day, of tackling the challenges associated with leading schools, and of the sorts of complex interactions they’re going to have throughout the day.

We’ve been really interested in what this all means for women who are working from home at the moment. We’ve explored the wardrobe choices women are making, as well as some of the critiques that felt inevitable as soon as all of this started. Something that keeps coming up is the challenge of the video conferencing background. While some of the twitter accounts, such as this one that rates the credibility of experts based on how many books are behind them on screen, are funny, there’s also a lot of really serious critique about what it means to essentially open a window into your home life, for people who are usually able to set boundaries and define what is a private or public part of their lives.

Many of us are working from hastily set-up spaces which means the hidden parts of our home are on display in the background – bedrooms or kitchens: the spaces where many people might have thought of as the places they once decompressed from work. They’re now right there, undeniably in screen and blurring the boundaries of work and home even more.

As a result, we’ve seen a surge in clever video conferencing backgrounds and discussions about how to find the perfect one (by the way, I have the final answer on this: I present to you, my Ramones brick wall background in the form of the hotline bling meme – this took more effort than you’d think).

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I had a discussion with some school leaders about this last week and the general consensus was that it adds a layer of unexpected worry to the interactions leaders are having with people. There were a couple of people who hadn’t even thought of it, but others who had planned and constructed backgrounds with precision to convey a certain image – or to keep the separation between home and work. We’re interested to hear what your experiences are – how have you approached this? Is it something you’ve even thought about? Get in touch with us on twitter! We’d love to hear from you.


Business on top, trackpants on bottom? #workfromhome wardrobes

We know – and have written about – how wardrobes help people get into working mode for a certain role. We know that the morning routine of getting dressed and getting ready for work can sometimes serve as a routine of getting into the mindset and headspace for the day ahead, or putting on the character of the ‘leader’, which is different for everyone.

So what does it mean when that morning routine is gone?

We’ve been hearing from a lot of women at the moment and having conversations with teachers and academics who are doing a lot more of their work online. When much of the world is working from home, with only a small portion of a person as visible to surveillance and the public gaze as they usually are (if at all).

When you’re teaching at home, the routine goes out the window for many people, in part because ALL of the routines are out the window. There have been fascinating decisions and conversations about the effects of this on their work mindset, the way they’re interacting with people online, and the way they’re working with their colleagues and students.

We’ve heard from women like Beck who has, in the past, shared snaps of her work heels, who is now updating us on her home wardrobe (keep it coming, Beck!)

At-school Beck:

RemoteLearning Beck:

Pat and I have both commented about this too. Pat’s comment about zoom-eyeliner clearly struck a chord with people:

We wrote recently about the way the blazer sits on many women leaders’ chairs as a quick wardrobe item to throw on and feel more prepared / professional. I realised I had done a similar thing with a ‘zoom cardigan’:

Twitter has been giving us some hilarious commentary around these issues – as well as some important insights into people’s perceptions of the importance of appearance. Some schools have been advising students to wear their uniforms for video conferences, and there’s an enormous amount of discussion from teachers about what’s appropriate to wear while teaching synchronous video sessions. There’s heated debate on both sides and we are taking it all in, thinking of what it means for this project.

I’ll leave you to think on these issues with this tweet, one of my favourites:


We’d love to hear your thoughts! Tweet us at @chalkhands and @ThomsonPat

Trustworthy leader/ship

There’s a lot going around at the moment about trusting leaders. I’ve already written about the way Australians’ trust in our political leaders was shaken over the summer. This week we’ve seen  articles coming out about school leaders and plans to roll back some policies that provided autonomy for local decision-making, accompanied by a suggestion that principals needed more layers of accountabilities so that we could be sure they were investing money in the most efficient / effective ways. Responses from leaders and the professional associations representing them were clear that what is really needed is trust and support.


I was speaking about this wardrobe research last week with a colleague and they reflected on a paper they recently read about the difference in responses to being ‘managed’ when broken down into performance management from men and women. He said that men were consistently being seen as fair and giving reasonable feedback when having to work with underperforming employees. In contrast, women were seen as being unfair, and their employees reported a higher intention to leave as a result of the performance management conversations. I haven’t been able to find that specific paper, but there are scores of other papers that tell us similar things (e.g., this one that suggests women leaders receive more backlash when doing their jobs).


We’ve spoken about similar issues before, in relation to feedback and evaluations – women receive comparatively lower feedback scores from students, and more comments on their appearance and wardrobe (an issue that is even moreso pronounced for women of colour).


That conversation led me to think about the Heads’ Protest from 2018, when Heads from schools all over England marched on Downing Street to raise awareness about the impact of austerity and funding cuts on their schools. We’ve written about this in previous posts as well as in our forthcoming chapter based on this project. Their collective image was utterly professional – and the symbolic “TRUST US” was louder than any words could have been.


Photo by Romane Gautun on Unsplash

So the idea of trust is rattling around in my brain right now. It relates to this study in two different ways… one is in the public image of the ‘professional’ leader. The performance of ‘trustworthiness’ and the fabrication in part through wardrobe and appearance of what that looks like – and the conscious decisionmaking about how that portrayal comes together through wardrobe and appearance. Along with that, comes the sense of self and identity that is being formed through those wardrobe choices. Dressing for the job one wants, etc.

The other is in the perception of what a professional leader looks like and what happens to a woman leader when their appearance might not match those ideas and perceptions.


One of the biggest recurring phrases in responses to our survey was ‘professional’ (and variations thereof) when describing wardrobes. There’s a significant amount of time, energy, labour, financial outlay, and physical work that goes into creating that image of the ‘right’ kind of professional leader. We are interested in how that feels for leaders, how it plays out, and whether anyone has had any critical moments / memories in relation to this.


We’d love to hear from you.

Who are we dressing for? How do colleagues influence wardrobe choices?

When we began this project, we had some expectations about the reasoning behind the wardrobe choices being made each day by women leaders. We asked participants who they were dressing for – we wondered if it was students, parents / communities, or staff, or someone else. We have written a little bit about this in the past, but I was speaking with some people over the last few days about this project and the question came up – ‘so who is telling people to dress a certain way?’ and it has been on my mind.

We have written in the past about some of the theoretical frames / lenses that we’re working with to analyse the data from our survey. For example, we wrote at length about Fred Davis’s work in critical fashion studies that explores the way wardrobes form part of a set of markers of group identity.  We know from his work that there are accepted markers of a certain identity that can be seen through clothing. Dress, fashion, and wardrobes serve an important role in communicating identities and people outside of those groups do generally read those identities markers correctly (e.g., you aren’t wearing a suit to go to work as a lifesaver at a pool).

Davis discussed the way changes in circumstances influence our identities and, in turn, the way we form and communicate these identities and identity shifts through our fashion and wardrobe choices. We heard a lot about this from our participants, and we have written about this in the past too – how changing roles often resulted in a changing appearance or wardrobe.


Photo by Burgess Milner on Unsplash

We expected that women in our study would tell us that they dressed for their students first – we anticipated a pedagogical aspect to their clothing choices, particularly for leaders in secondary schools. We were somewhat surprised to see that students ranked last in the responses of who people were concerned about – first was staff, then parents / carers and the wider community were close behind, and finally students. We asked for elaboration on these comments and found some common themes. We’ll write about this in the future, we suspect, but I wanted to share some of the themes of responses here. To keep this manageable, I’m focusing on the responses of people who were thinking of staff members when they made their choices. Some of the key points included:

  • Dress codes were seen as helpful here in taking the guesswork out of wardrobe. Less time and energy had to be spent in deciding what was the ‘right’ choice.
  • Again and again, we see people responding that they want to be seen by their colleagues as being ‘professional’. We did ask what ‘professional’ looked like, and have written about this a lot on this blog – check out our tag here. The balance for many of our participants, though, was in hoping to appear both professional and approachable.
  • There are associated value judgments coming through, with people wanting to appear smart, not ‘too old’ or ‘too young’, not too feminine, creative, authentic, stylish, and wanting to be taken seriously.


There were comments throughout about judgments according to wardrobes – both positive and negative, implicit and explicit, and the elusive challenge of the unwritten rules of ‘appropriate’ and ‘professional’ wardrobe choices.

We think this idea of ephemeral rules that aren’t always clear (and maybe you don’t know you’ve made a misstep until after you’ve made it?) is interesting and one that’s worth exploring further.

Have you had this experience? We’d love to hear from you.

Keeping your cool in a heatwave… leadership wardrobes in the summer.

Something that came up with relative frequency in our survey responses was the particular challenge presented by wardrobes in the Australian summer.
With a heatwave set to hit this week, and many states still with a few days of school left before breaking up for the end of the year, it seemed timely to write about the challenges participants reported facing in trying to balance ‘professionalism’ and comfort / keeping cool.

For our international readers, many of Australia’s schools will be hitting temperatures well above 40 degrees C this week, with some remote areas anticipating temperatures closer to 50C. There are still plenty of schools that don’t have air conditioning (and won’t for 10 years) so kids are trying to learn in sweltering temperatures, and teachers and leaders are having to work in the same spaces.

There is an argument to be made about the occupational health and safety implications of this, and this is the space where the research literature tends to reside. For example, research has examined the implications of PPE / safety equipment and safety clothing while working in hot temperatures.
But this isn’t quite the same issue. The recurring issue here is related to what we have written about on this blog before – the unwritten rules about what is acceptable ‘professional’ clothing and presentation.

I did some searching to see what advice is out there and it’s just about exactly as I had expected. This one is a personal highlight – the advice for women to wear dresses that are ‘flattering’ and in ‘soft, friendly patterns’ is quite representative of the sorts of advice being given freely online.

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I’m not entirely sure that this advice from Glamour magazine hits the mark – how to dress for work in the summer… perhaps in a different climate (imagine a sweltering Brisbane afternoon with this SUIT on).

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Given what we’ve written in the past – that ‘professional’ clothing for women leaders is expressed as being dark and heavy trousers, suits, and stockings, we can see how this might pose some issues for the Australian summer, as noted by the participants in this study. The rules being largely unwritten then complicates issues further – what is appropriate and what isn’t? How do you decide?

Australian teachers and leaders who still have a few very hot days left – we salute you! Stay hydrated.



Heels: practicality, comfort, and style…

When you’re researching wardrobes, you start to really notice the number of news articles and conversations about clothing, appearance, identity, and careers.

You also start to notice what people wear. This is partly because people now often comment to me about their clothing / outfits (and I love the conversations that come after that) but I find that I’m also more observant just in the day to day of things. I was in Sydney earlier this week and walking from the city to the university and, for whatever reason, I was paying attention to people’s shoes.

There were so many people in sky-high heels who appeared to be uncomfortable, or who were walking slowly in the steady flow of foot traffic. Of course, there were others who were striding down the footpath like Naomi Campbell stomping down the runway – just so you know I’m not skewing the anec-data here! It did make me think about our survey data, though, and the split comments from women about their shoes and what they represented.

When participants spoke about the times they wore heels, for example, it was often to look more professional (we’ve written about this in the past). Leaders reported wearing heels when they were ‘on show’ – meeting with governors, speaking on assemblies, or for ‘high stakes’ occasions, in one participant’s words. Participants described expectations to wear heels, and some people noted that even when they like wearing them they do find them to be uncomfortable.  There were comments about wearing them to be taller (an issue I’ve never had to think about at 5’9”, admittedly) to offset power dynamics.

Some of the participants questioned the need to wear heels. Their explicit resistance was about comfort (“as I have got older, I have begun to wear flat boots”), about the expectations placed on women (“would you ask a male leader about his footwear?”) and about practicality.

The issue of practicality of wardrobe choices was not limited to shoes, though it did come up a lot with shoes. Wardrobe choices were determined by the day’s tasks (playground duty, teaching classes – “Again full time teaching a young class where I am up and down from the floor and on my feet most of the day demands comfortable non restrictive clothes and no heels”), the weather (heat, rain, snow – our diversity of participants are well represented in their climates!), and safety concerns (“I have to be involved in the positive handling of students. Unconsciously I have stopped wearing any jewellery other than my watch and wedding rings so I don’t scratch them or my selves.”).

Of interest was the participant who described her wardrobe as changing when taking on a leadership role, becoming “less practical, more ‘professional’” in nature. One standout response was the Deputy Head / Deputy Principal in a primary school who described her job & her subsequent wardrobe choices in terms that were familiar to both of us: “Practical for the environment I work in.  Able to work on the floor, clean up stuff, plunger toilets, move quickly in an emergency. Brightly coloured for the kids.”.

The practicality of shoes are a recurring theme – women in our study have expressed an expectation (sometimes explicit through dress codes) to wear heels. When considering practicality of shoes, issues of distance walked throughout classroom visits during the day, stairs, being ‘on the go’ (“I am never a high heels person and prefer flat shoes or boots so I can run if needed!”), and wanting to be able to move freely (“I hate wearing heels but can’t break the habit – being taller also makes me feel more in control but I often take my heels off to teach. I want to look adult and be taken seriously but I also want to be able to prance around teaching Shakespeare.”).

We’ve written about shoes in our blog before. Pat has reflected on her heels that were both a ‘don’t f**k with me’ armour, and a little bit of an uncomfortable match. Our guest blogger, Lacey Austin, wrote about balancing on the tightrope of expectations for image and what it means to look like a teacher. This is clearly a rich area of thinking – partly because of the images and discourses/connotations associated with heels, but also because they are quite literally debilitating. You can’t easily run, jump, dodge or weave, and we know that heels cause permanent and painful damage to our feet. (More here‘This is what wearing heels all day does to your body’.) When women are still required to wear heels as part of either explicit expectations (dress codes), or implicit expectations, we need to better understand their effects.

I write all of this as an academic who, many days, manages to get away with wearing jeans and sneakers to work. But – like all of the data – on days when I have to teach, or when I have important meetings, the dresses and ‘nice’ shoes come out. I always get comments (maybe because of this project, maybe because of the mismatch in image) and I inevitably refer to it as having to look ‘like a grown up’ that day. Then I kick myself – ‘what am I saying!?’. I’m still thinking through how those ‘off the cuff’ responses influence our thinking and our rules about wardrobe. And, check out my cool and comfortable shoes today while I do that thinking.



We’d love to hear your thoughts, either on our survey if you haven’t yet taken it, or on twitter – Amanda – @chalkhands and Pat @ThomsonPat

The politics and the costs of looking ‘right’ for women leaders

We’re getting a little bit political in this blog today – but never fear, reader, it does all relate to school leaders.

Some of you might have seen the recent reporting and public commentary surrounding an article about the estimated cost of American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) haircut, which a writer estimated to be around $300 (with a tip included). This number didn’t surprise me in the slightest, nor (I imagine) would it have surprised many women. If you aren’t familiar with the story, you can read more about this here, here, and here.

American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently been the face of a heated discussion about the costs associated with having the right ‘look’ as a leader.

The article written about AOC’s haircut was written with a point of comparison included, which contrasted AOC’s hair with a prominent American male politician who would spend $20 on his own haircut – this is comparing apples and oranges at best.

The cost of looking ‘right’ is something we’ve talked about in the past and it’s something that keeps coming up as being a really significant issue for women leaders – clearly, regardless of their field.

This is also not the first time AOC has been put under intense scrutiny for her style – she’s a young, powerful, progressive politician who has certainly ruffled a few feathers in the political landscape. Indeed, her political achievements are incredible – she is the youngest woman ever elected to congress and as a leader, she has become one of the faces of the progressive political movement in the United States (and watched closely by people worldwide).

There are ongoing comments from the media, the public, and other politicians about her clothing and appearance. Previous efforts to stir up outrage have included complaints about a specific blazer of hers, as well as a cover story where she wore clothing from the magazine’s stylist (as would happen in the majority of cover stories).

Attacks often include the notion that she is supposed to be progressive and fighting for progressive causes, which she does while still meeting the standards of appearance that she’s held to. (Examples also abound of other political women being attacked and criticised for not meeting these standards as much as for meeting them.)

Ocasio-Cortez is deliberate about her wardrobe and styling choices, and uses her clothing to convey parts of her identity, and to convey messages. For example, she comments on why she wears what she wears or how her hair is styled when it’s interwoven with meaning.

So why does this matter for school leaders?


The good thing to come out of this is that it has really sparked a more open conversation about the standards of appearance, wardrobe, and dress that women leaders are held to. It has also reinforced the inequity faced by women in these positions in terms of financial cost and the time it takes – I myself am often overdue for a haircut because I can’t find 4 hours to sit in the chair at once. Some great articles have been written that highlight these issues, and they do reflect comments from our participants as well that spoke to the frustration they felt in relation to these issues, and the ways women are held to certain expectations about their appearance (and the associated financial implications of those expectations).

Finally, another issue has been addressed in some of these ongoing articles, when the cost of hair and beauty treatments are criticised (let’s not forget that these are highly feminised professions). Hairdressers are trained and highly skilled professionals and, as I have already mentioned, I’m rarely in the chair for less than 4 hours when I have to get my hair done. They deserve to be paid fairly for their work.

I’ve been really pleased to see the articles that are arguing for recognition of this as an important part of the cost of living – we need to shift the conversation away from these costs, towards a discussion about WHY people feel the need to meet these costs if they don’t actually want to. The implicit and explicit expectations to have the RIGHT hair, to look RIGHT, continue to have financial implications for women.

Do you think this is comparable (perhaps not quite on the same public scale!) for women leaders in education? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


The many costs of changing wardrobes: Might rented or shared wardrobes might be a solution to multiple challenges?

We have written a lot about women who are making the shift in role and identity from teacher to leader, and what that means in practice.

We have found that women are buying new wardrobes (or wardrobe items) to ‘update’ their clothing to reflect their new roles.

We have found that these new wardrobe items are not cheap – and are often accompanied by expensive image upkeep regimens (hair, cosmetics, etc.).

We have found that there is a sense of frustration for many of our participants in relation to these issues. We have seen the effects of feedback, of ‘advice’ and of official and unofficial dress codes.

We have written about the intense scrutiny women leaders face in this area – often in public arenas. 

We have discussed the cost of looking like a leader for many of our participants. They have described significant financial costs. They have described significant amounts of time and energy being spent on these issues. And, in the case of some participants, they have decided to simply not do that anymore. Instead, those women described abandoning their morning hair and makeup rituals to reclaim that time to spend on reading, on leisurely breakfasts, or on morning meditation.

We have also discussed the costs of fashion, and consumerism writ large, on the environment. We’ve discussed the climate crisis and the role fashion is playing in creating more and more waste.

We are interested in the ways people are working to reduce some of these burdens. More and more, we are seeing options for more sustainable wardrobes.



For example, this article from a couple of weeks ago reported on a company who is renting work wardrobes. They speak about sustainability and affordability, but they do highlight another issue that is clear in our data, which is that they cater mostly to smaller sizes (this is something that arose in our survey, which we intend to write about more in the future – who ‘fits’ in to the image of leadership).

A similar project is being undertaken at Monash University, where ‘The Rack’ is offering wardrobe pieces to pre-service student teachers for a gold coin donation. Students will be able to rent clothing to wear on professional experience practicums, job interviews, internships, etc. Wardrobe items are donated from the Monash community (and beyond, I’d imagine), and I’ve seen students browsing the selection for a few weeks now and heard really positive feedback. You can read more about The Rack here.

We think sustainability, affordability, and accessibility are a great and important starting point for thinking about key requirements for solutions to some of the wardrobe barriers we’ve seen thrown up.

Do you have knowledge of any similar programs? Have you made use of any? What do you think about the premise? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you on twitter or on our survey.



Er…. thanks for the feedback?

One of the points that was made in the recent #AussieEd chat was in relation to anonymous feedback was that principals are given (extremely) unsolicited feedback on their wardrobe and appearance in anonymous surveys.

This made me think about anonymous student feedback which we receive a lot as academics – each semester, students are asked to provide anonymous teaching evaluations and research evidence is mounting – overwhelmingly so – that these surveys are discriminatory. They have been found to be racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, and the list goes on (for example, this open access paper by Meera E. Deo proves to be sobering reading). The comments can be brutal – academics have reported personal attacks, even threats, and there is little recourse. This study, for example, generated data through such evaluations, as well as through anonymous rating websites. They found that women were more likely to be rated on personality and appearance than men were. Similar issues were reported in the mainstream media (such as the Financial Times). You might be wondering, though, why I’m talking about academic labour conditions (because that’s what this issue is part of, really…) in a study about school leaders.

Well, here’s the thing. It isn’t just academics who experience this. School leaders are often encouraged to undertake anonymous 360-degree feedback surveys and this story highlights some of the particular ways anonymous feedback can be delivered cruelly and have implications for careers. They’re usually taken at key points of a leader’s career development – when people seek promotions, are appointed to new jobs, and so on. So this is naturally going to have some significant implications for the ways that feedback is read, understood, and taken up.

We wonder – have any other school leaders received anonymous comments that reflect the comments made in the tweet from last week’s chat?

We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts and experiences here in our survey.