Looking Good and Being Good: Women Leaders in Australian Universities

Professor

Tanya Fitzgerald

Professor Tanya Fitzgerald is a historian of education, public educator and Dean and Head of the Graduate School of Education at UWA.
New Zealander

Year of research: 2018
Published in: Education Sciences

DOI: 10.3390/edusci8020054.

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Professor

Fitzgerald's Recommendations

  • Conduct unconscious bias training. This should uncover implicit bias directed related to how a person is perceived and their outer clothing.
  • Understanding of organisational culture. Organisational culture change should help to address hidden and implicit messages/messaging to employers
  • Organisations should commit to understanding implicit ways in which gender operates

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Key Findings

In this article, I argue that women in senior leadership positions in universities continue to face a number of tensions and ambiguities in their everyday working lives. Drawing on the metaphors of ‘looking good’ and ‘being good’, I highlight the gendered assumptions that senior women encounter. As senior leaders, women are simultaneously required to negotiate an inherently masculine culture yet at the same time are expected to exercise a level of femininity. Their physical presence, appearance, clothing, gestures, and behaviours are central to the bodily exercise of leadership. As the data presented illustrate, women’s leadership bodies and bodily performances reflect gendered institutional norms and assumptions about how leaders should look and act.

Additional applications

These research findings can be applied to any context, and in any organisation.

Methodology

This research was based from narrative inquiry, and then used NVIVO and metaphors to analyse the data.

Reference this research

Fitzgerald, T. (2018) Looking good and being good: Senior women leaders in Australian universities, Education Sciences 54(8)

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Professor

Tanya Fitzgerald

(She/Her)

Professor

Faculty of Education

University of Western Australia

Year of research: 2018
Published in: Education Sciences

DOI: 10.3390/edusci8020054.

Professor Tanya Fitzgerald is a historian of education, public educator and Dean and Head of the Graduate School of Education at UWA.
New Zealander