Research Topic

Ways of Seeing Women’s Leadership in Education: Stories, Images, Metaphors, Methods and Theories

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Gender and educational leadership remains a focus for scholarly interest precisely because gender inequalities remain. That is the case, thirty years on from the publication of seminal works that established gender and women in educational leadership as a focus for research. Scholars continue to document ...

Gender and educational leadership remains a focus for scholarly interest precisely because gender inequalities remain. That is the case, thirty years on from the publication of seminal works that established gender and women in educational leadership as a focus for research. Scholars continue to document women’s under-representation in leadership, their accounts of doing leadership, as well as an understanding of how their inclusion transforms leadership theory.

Feminist epistemology ensures women's experiences and ways of seeing are central to the research purpose and process; that women as leaders are not solely the object of the researcher’s gaze. In particular, feminist standpoint theory recognises there is epistemic privilege so that situated knowledge, what is known and the ways it can be known, is shaped by the positionality of knowledge producers. A reflexive approach prompts feminist researchers to reflect deeply on context, as well as their positionality, in relation to the focus of research.

The 7th International Women Leading Education across Continents conference, hosted by the University of Nottingham in 2019, has as its theme - ‘Ways of seeing women’s leadership in education: stories, images, metaphors, methods and theories’.

This article collection will consider papers drawing on individual narratives, for example as autoethnographies, narrative inquiries or using other qualitative methods, to illustrate how structural inequalities operate at multiple levels. Likewise, large-scale databases enable quantitative analyses of women’s ways of doing leadership.

Innovative work, exploring the metaphors and images used to describe leadership in a range of cultural contexts, reveals just how differently we conceptualise women’s leadership across the continents. Our ways of seeing inform our choices in presenting the findings: as fictionalised stories and poetry, as graphic illustrations, or as traditional academic papers. Importantly, our use of gender, feminist, critical race, intersectionality and other social theories enables us to think about and articulate our ways of seeing women’s leadership in formal and informal educational settings for learners of all ages.


Keywords: women, gender, feminism, educational leadership


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