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Why Are There So Few Female Leaders in Higher Education: A Case of Structure or Agency?

Shepherd, Sue (2017) Why Are There So Few Female Leaders in Higher Education: A Case of Structure or Agency? Management in Education, 31 (2). pp. 82-87. ISSN 0892-0206. E-ISSN 1741-9883. (doi:10.1177/0892020617696631)

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A significant gender imbalance remains at executive management level within higher education despite a number of initiatives to increase the number of women in the leadership pipeline and ensure they are better prepared for these roles. This article presents findings from a recent study on the appointment of deputy and pro vice chancellors in pre-1992 English universities that provide fresh insights into why this might be the case. These findings challenge the notion of women’s missing agency - characterised by a lack of confidence or ambition and a tendency to opt out of applying for the top jobs - as an explanation for their continued under-representation. Rather, they highlight the importance of three structural factors associated with the selection process: mobility and external career capital, conservatism, and homosociability. An approach of ‘fixing’ the women is therefore unlikely to be sufficient in redressing the current gender imbalance within university executive management teams.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0892020617696631
Uncontrolled keywords: agency, gender, higher education, homosociability, leadership, selection
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: S. Shepherd
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2017 09:39 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 18:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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