Leadership, Gender and Culture in Education: Male and Female Perspectives

By John Collard; Cecilia Reynolds | Go to book overview

Conclusions and Implications:
Towards Emergent Theoretical
Perspectives on Leadership,
Gender and Culture1

John Collard and Cecilia Reynolds

Two decades of research into leadership and gender in education have tended to reflect themes from the broader discourses in fields such as psychology and sociology. They have also alerted us to a worldwide problem of male domination of positions of formal power in professions where the vast majority of employees are women. Feminists have actively contested this tradition and argued for more equitable promotion strategies and recognition of alternatives to authoritarian and utilitarian leadership styles that have been alleged to be favoured by males. However, much of this discourse has been locked within essentialist stereotypes of masculine and feminine gender, which are no longer credible. There is a need for more nuanced theory and research which recognizes that gender is mediated by other factors such as diverse social, system and institutional cultures. Factors such as class, ethnicity and sexuality also need to be recognized as shaping variables. The concept of organizational culture itself also needs to become more sophisticated and resist essentializing tendencies. This perspective challenges current theorists, researchers and practitioners to develop more complex awareness about leadership, gender and culture in educational settings.

This book is a step towards the development of a dynamic and nuanced theory of leadership that recognizes the interactive and dialectical nature of three socially constructed phenomena: leadership, gender and culture. As such, it departs from positivist propositions about leadership. We concur with recent theorists who have concluded that positivist accounts have failed to map this complex territory because they have searched for universal foundations instead of building theory from grounded observation of complex processes. Several chapters in this book delineate some of this complexity. Discussions here move beyond the typologies of gender, which have predominated in the leadership discourse for the past two decades. Such

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