HEADTEACHER posts in secondary schools are dominated by men despite women working in the majority of classrooms, new figures show.

Some 65 per cent of the teaching workforce in secondary is made up of women, but females make up only 41 per cent of headteachers.

The situation is markedly different in primary schools where 90 per cent of staff and 86 per cent of headteachers are female.

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Teaching unions said the imbalance at secondary was driven by the “crippling workload” faced by headteachers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) warned the situation could get worse as the Scottish Government rolls out plans to give more power to school leaders under a new Headteachers’ Charter.

Andrea Bradley, EIS assistant secretary, said: “Many women in teaching, already struggling with workload and with keeping on top of the demands of home and school, with only limited access to genuinely flexible working, observe their headteacher colleagues bearing ever more responsibility.

“Headteachers are performing a proliferation of tasks with less support that in years past because of austerity budgeting and they judge that the job is not for them.”

The EIS went on to call for school recruitment processes to be checked to make sure they were fair as well as equality training to all those involved in selecting and hiring senior staff.

And rather than the current model of placing more responsibility on headteachers the EIS wants to see a “distributed leadership” approach to be introduced where responsibility for the running of a school is shared.

Emma Ritch, executive director of feminist organisation Engender, said it was crucial that schools had a balance of men and women in leadership roles to improve the “toxic”experience of some female pupils.

She told the Times Education Supplement Scotland: “Despite teaching being a female-dominated profession, men are over-represented in vital headteaching roles.

“Schools have a critical role to play in tackling gender inequality and these figures show they are not living up to that ambition.”

Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of Close the Gap, which campaigns for equality for women at work, called on councils to support female teachers with leadership ambitions to reach their full potential.

She said: “These figures are concerning and, in spite of its female-dominated workforce, it shows that the education sector is no different to the rest of the labour market, with the glass ceiling firmly intact.

“We know that a lack of part-time and flexible working in senior positions, and a long-hours culture, means that management roles are often incompatible with women’s caring role.

“This is compounded by assumptions about women’s capabilities and interests where it is perceived that men are better suited to leadership roles.”

Local authority umbrella body Cosla said councils would reflect on the figures.

“At a time when we are struggling to attract applicants for headteacher posts across the country we need to ensure we are making the most of the pool of talent we have in our schools.”

The Scottish Government said the headteacher gender gap in secondary schools was long-established, but “not acceptable”.