Daring to lead with feminism: Stories from Gender Studies academics in Australian higher education

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

Leadership is now central to the management of the neoliberal, corporate university. Despite the introduction of equity policies and guidelines to improve the gender profile of Australian universities academic women remain underrepresented in the professoriate as well as in formal academic executive and faculty decision-making positions. This paper navigates the uncertainty and complexity of university leadership in Australian universities and the consequential gendered implications this has for academic staff. It exposes the gendered failings of current equity measures such as merit and diversity and why a feminist discussion of women and leadership in academia is necessary to address the ongoing paucity of women in positions of authority and influence. This paper draws upon qualitative interviews with Gender Studies academics to better understand what it means to be a feminist teacher and leader and how these experiences offer new insights into university leadership in a new era of higher education.

Keywords: leadership; feminism; Gender Studies