International journal of qualitative studies in education
Place of publication
Research on women's leadership has tended to focus upon detailed micro studies of individual women's identity formation or, alternatively, to conduct macro studies of its broader discursive constructions within society. Both approaches, although providing helpful understandings of the issues surrounding constructions of women's leadership, are inadequate. They fail to deal with the ongoing dilemma raised in both Cultural Studies and studies of discourse and identity, in relation to the negotiation of subjectivity and representation, that is, how broader societal discourses and media representations of women's leadership both inform, and are informed by, the lived experiences of individual women. In this article, a range of methodological approaches are outlined that were drawn upon in a study of a small group of senior women academics from ethnically and socioeconomically diverse origins. The authors examine how the women negotiated the frequent mismatch that arose between, on the one hand, societal discourses and media representations which often reproduced narrow and highly stereotypical accounts of women's leadership, and on the other hand, the individual women's subjective experiences of leadership which challenged such representations. It is contended that it is necessary to draw on a number of methodological perspectives in ways which trouble and unsettle homogenized versions of women's leadership in order to fully explicate more nuanced and complex ways of understanding how women's leadership identity is formed.
Field of Research
130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
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