#OSEditorPicks: Constructing Women’s Leadership Representation in the UK Press During a Time of Financial Crisis

[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

Elliott, C. & Stead, V. (2018). Constructing Women’s Leadership Representation in the UK Press During a Time of Financial Crisis: Gender Capitals and Dialectic Tensions. Organization Studies, 39(1): 19-45.

In this timely article, Carole Elliott and Valerie Stead investigate how women’s leadership was represented in the printed media during the global financial crisis of 2008 – 2012. They show how textual and visual discourses combine to promote different conceptualizations of what it is to be a leader, and can make a difference in the advancement of women into leadership roles. I encourage you to read this article to learn more about the power of everyday discourse in promoting (or not) women into positions of leadership.

-Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief, Organization Studies

OSSA continuing challenge for organizations is the persistent underrepresentation of women in senior roles, which gained a particular prominence during the global financial crisis (GFC). The GFC has raised questions regarding the forms of leadership that allowed the crisis to happen and alternative proposals regarding how future crises might be avoided. Within this context women’s leadership has been positioned as an ethical alternative to styles of masculinist leadership that led to the crisis in the first place. Through a multimodal discursive analysis this article examines the socio-cultural assumptions sustaining the gendering of leadership in the popular press to critically analyse how women’s leadership is represented during the GFC of 2008–2012. Highlighting the media’s portrayal of women’s leadership as a gendered field of activity where different forms of gender capital come into play, we identify three sets of dialectics: women as leaders and women as feminine, women as credible leaders and women as lacking in credibility, and women as victims and women as their own worst enemies. Together, the dialectics work together to form a discursive pattern framed by a male leadership model that narrates the promise of women leaders, yet the disappointment that they are not men. Our study extends understandings regarding how female and feminine forms of gender capital operate dialectically, where the media employs feminine capital to promote women’s positioning as leaders yet also leverages female capital as a constraint. We propose that this understanding can be of value to organizations to understand the impact and influence of discourse on efforts to promote women into leadership roles.


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‘Where Are The Women’ In Leadership?

Rep. Carolyn Maloney made news this year with her forthright question about female representation at a Congressional committee hearing. Despite federal law prohibiting sex discrimination, women are still underrepresented in leadership.

A new study in SAGE Open zeroes in on leadership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to investigate this issue, and offers solutions for decision makers to achieve greater gender equality.

Athena Yiamouyiannis of Ohio University and Barbara Osborne of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill published “Addressing Gender Inequities in Collegiate Sport: Examining Female Leadership Representation Within NCAA Sport Governance” on May 25, 2012 in SAGE Open. To access other recent articles, please click here.

The abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine issues related to female representation within the governance structure of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). A descriptive statistics approach through the lens of feminism was taken in collecting and analyzing data related to the gender representation of staff leadership positions within the NCAA national office and gender representation within the NCAA Division I, II, and III governance structure. This was coupled with a review of NCAA programming initiatives related to leadership opportunities. Although a number of strategies are being implemented by the NCAA to provide greater access and leadership opportunities for women (e.g., diversity initiatives, Senior Woman Administrator legislation, and guaranteed representation on committees), women continue to be underrepresented within NCAA governance substructures and upper leadership levels within the NCAA national office. In addition, nongender neutral sport governance policies still exist that impede the progress of achieving gender equality.

To learn more about SAGE Open, please follow this link.

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Composing Our Lives, As Women and As Leaders

When we look at women in leadership, we often see a set of steps that must be followed in life and particular traits that lead to success. In reality, their paths are not so predictable.

In a new study, women talk about this ambiguity and reveal “the process of creating, shaping, and inventing their careers and themselves as leaders.” Robbie P. Hertneky of Antioch University published “Composing Our Lives—As Women and As Leaders” in the May 2012 issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources. To view other articles in this issue, please click here.

Professor Hertneky explains in the abstract:

The Problem.
Career paths have traditionally been seen as linear progressions, discrete steps along a well-traveled avenue, and leadership development articulated as a list of winning skills and behaviors. Alternate models are needed, in particular those relevant to the career and leadership development of women.

The Solution.
This article looks at women’s career paths and development as leaders through the lens of Bateson’s (1989) concept of composing a life. Drawing on the findings of research on the leadership self-identity of women college presidents, a new perspective of composing a career and a leadership identity is offered.

The Stakeholders.
With implications for career planning and leadership education, this research may be useful for human resource development (HRD) professionals, leadership development and career consultants, and educators—faculty, student advisors, and administrators. It may also be informative, supportive, and inspiring to women in higher education, wherever they stand in their careers.

To learn more about Advances in Developing Human Resources, please follow this link.

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