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Passion, pragmatics and politics - Senior women leaders in further education: An exploration of leadership style and identity

Weston, Joanne

Authors

Joanne Weston joanne.weston@uwe.ac.uk



Abstract

Despite the radical equal opportunities legislation of the 1970s and the more recent Equality Act of 2010, women are still under-represented in senior leadership roles across the professions and industries. In the case of Further Education, whilst the incorporation of colleges in the early 1990s stimulated a growth in the number of women middle managers, this has not been reflected in a corresponding number of women senior managers and leaders.

Using narrative and autobiographical approaches, this study draws upon the experiences of seven past and current senior women leaders in the Further Education sector:
- firstly, to identify the voices of a largely unheard minority group in an often overlooked educational sector
- secondly, to explore largely male dominated leadership theory through the lens of the leadership practices of the women leaders.

General leadership theory is investigated and gender specific aspects are discussed. A range of literature concerning women leaders in education is reviewed whilst the impact of past and present political and economic turbulence on the Further Education sector is charted. The findings indicate a high degree of commonality across the research participants in terms of leadership practice and identity and confirm the absence of a holistic leadership theory. Two key themes of a mosaic of leadership theories and the iterative nature of the personal and professional in identity are identified. Recommendations for policy, practice and further research are made to broaden understanding about, and opportunities for, women in senior leadership positions in Further Education.

Thesis Type Thesis
Institution Citation Weston, J. Passion, pragmatics and politics - Senior women leaders in further education: An exploration of leadership style and identity. (Thesis). University of the West of England
Keywords women leaders, further education, leadership

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