Of the 363 posts advertised, 208 were meant for men and 155 for women. If that gender disparity seemed odd, then of the 196 principals in 2020-21, 120 were male and 76 female.
Such a difference exists apparently because the Directorate of Education (DoE) follows different recruitment/promotion procedures for the two gender. An unwritten norm is to set aside 60% of vacancies for men and 40% for women.
To add to this, most women, despite their experience and qualification, usually have to wait for a longer period to be promoted as principals.
Now contrast this with the gender data related to government schools. Women teachers outnumber men among trained graduate teachers (TGT) and postgraduate teachers (PGT).
There are 429 girls schools against 407 for boys (with 194 being co-educational) and there are 72,000 more girl students than boys among the 16.2 lakh students in government institutions.
The gender skew among the principals has existed for several decades and has only recently been challenged. Aggrieved women met the director of education numerous times about the issue and DoE has now formed a “gender anomaly committee” to look into it.
The aberration is undisputed. PGTs who joined between 1989 and 1992 were elevated to vice-principalship in 2012.
But after 31 years of service, they are still awaiting a chance to become principals. In contrast, their male counterparts are already working at the level of the deputy director of education.
Similarly, the 1994 batch of women recruits became vice-principals in 2018 — that too on ad hoc basis with the promotion not confirmed.
Their male counterparts are mostly principals now. Women of the 1999-2000 batch assumed the vice head’s post in 2020 — again on ad hoc basis — while the men of the batch became VPs in 2012 and are now awaiting promotion to principalship.
Men teachers confirmed the differing rules about promotion and seniority. One of them told TOI that he joined as a PGT in 1998 and was promoted as vice principal in 2012.
“I am waiting to be elevated as principal since 2017,” he said. “But a woman PGT, who joined in 1995, became VP only in 2018.”
As per UDISE data, in 2020-21 of the 1,662 sanctioned posts of vice-principals, 1,195 were occupied. The incumbents comprised 633 men and 562 women. In 2018, the gap was narrower with 692 men and 645 women.
A woman vice-principal was indignant. “We are only asking for our right,” she said. “Even the women who were promoted as VPs are now approaching superannuation and will not become principals.”
One of them, who will retire in 18 months, added, “I have now worked under DoE for 24 years. I was promoted in 2018 as vice principal and because my school has no principal, I take care of everything without being designated a principal. Men junior to me have already become principals.”
A DoE official admitted to the oddity. “It is a legacy issue and has been such for 40-50 years now,” the official shrugged. “No one questioned it till recently. The anomaly committee is now working to usher gender neutrality.”
The official added, “Principals’ posts get filled either directly through recruitment conducted by UPSC or through promotion. Since Service is not under Delhi government, there are difficulties when recruitment is delayed.
As for promotion, the recruitment rules say one has to be VP for 10 years before one can be promoted as principal. Because of this, most aspirants are already 58-59 years when they become eligible. We are trying to reduce the VP tenure to seven years, but things are taking time.”