FEMINIST THEORY OF
Cleveland State University
The theory that interprets or explains public administration or its various aspects from a feminist perspective. Although feminism includes a wide range of viewpoints, most, if not all, feminists maintain a critical perspective on women's current economic and social status and prospects, employ gender as a central element in social analysis, and are committed to the idea that men and women should share equally "in the work, in the privileges, in the defining and the dreaming of the world" (Lerner 1984, p. 33). Feminist theories of public administration, then, use gender as a lens through which to analyze critically women's current status and role in public agencies, bring to light ways in which gender bias inhabits ideas and practices in the field, and formulate new theoretical approaches.
Two types of feminist theory can be observed in the literature of public administration. Descriptive theory, based on empirical study, reports on how gender influences current practice in public agencies, especially its effect on women's access to and status in public agency employment, and sometimes attempts to account for observed differences between men's and women's employment experiences. Conceptual theory aims to use gender to rethink the existing philosophy of public administration, focusing on such issues as the politics-administration dichotomy, public bureaucratic structure and practice, the bases for defending the legitimacy of the administrative state, professionalism, leadership, and citi