Dr. Mala Apparaju estimates that she went to more than 100 different job interviews before she was finally appointed principal of a school in a rural district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It took 40 interviews just to become the head of a department. Sometimes, she remembers, she would arrive for the interview and face a panel of seven men. “Needless to say,” she says, “I didn’t get those jobs.” Finally, around 2002, she got the gig.

Around the same time, Agnes Mazibuko — who’d been rising through the teaching ranks for 24 years — managed to land a job as principal of Ifalethu Primary School in rural Mpumalanga, the first woman in her district to hold the job. She was, she says, the best-qualified candidate,

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