The role of educational leaders' identities in education has been extensively discussed, especially when it comes to female leaders' identities. Scholars are particularly interested in terms of their gender intersecting with their leadership identity considering them as minorities in educational leadership with complex lived experiences. This research examines the experiences of an Indonesian Islamic school's only female leader, Elvira (pseudonym), who holds the position of school director. Based on the model of sex-role identity and leadership style, this individual case study demonstrates how gender influences the formation of the leadership identity of female leaders. This research identified a number of key events in Elvira's life that have shaped her present leadership identity. Findings show that Elvira's case demonstrates a tendency toward a feminine leadership style in "doing leadership." which is explained by her key life experiences (i.g. economy, education, marriage, work, and religion) that reveal a rather gender-essentialist view on the idea of becoming a woman. Nonetheless, this particular gender and leadership construction appears to allow her to lead in the challenging context of her school, which is dominated by students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds—via a more socioemotional and equitable approach to dealing with school discipline issues. This research demonstrates the significance of the feminine leadership style as a facilitator for schools that promote equity for disadvantaged students.
Difa Mahya Zahara, Indonesian International Islamic University, Indonesia