Posted by: meghancasey18 | September 8, 2016

Making Waves

Defining leadership has never been a simple process. There are likely as many definitions of leadership as there are leadership scholars. According to Amanda Sinclair (2013), definitions of leadership should be viewed as the result of ever fluctuating power, rather than an “enduring line in the sand” (page 3). The fluidity of our understanding of leadership is particurly apparent when analyzing women and leadership.

Sinclair argues that women are “re-making” leadership and re-defining what it means to be a leader through practice and scholarship. I would like to focus on women leading in scholarship. Women are often at the forefront of upholding pedagogical values, whether it be as educators or students. Gender and feminist scholars have helped shift the focus of women in leadership from “other” in comparison to the archetype of male leadership by documenting the systemic privilige of masculinity in the workplace (Sinclair, 2013). Thus, women scholars and women practicing leadership who broke this perception have been leading figures in changing the way we look at leadership.

In our class, we are constantly “re-making” our own conceptions of leadership and women leaders. It is not a simple process either. We know from studying leadership that it is a complex relationship characterized by influence and social norms, but to the vast majority of the population, leadership may be viewed as a static trait. Do you think that through the study of leadership we can foster a better understanding of the relationship between gender, leadership, and changing societal norms? Do you think that this can be applied to a population more generally? And if so, what would that look like?

References:

Sinclair, A. (2013). Not just ‘adding women’ in: Women re-making leadership” Seizing the Initiative: Australian Women Leaders in Politics, Workplaces and Communities. Melbourne University Press.

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Responses

  1. Through the study of leadership people will learn about the relationships between gender, leadership, and societal norms, but since the leadership discipline is not widely studied, many people are unaware of the bias American culture has toward leadership. With leadership literacy and understanding people would be better equipped to understand acute differences in leadership styles among gender in order to pick more effective and diverse men and women for roles that require collaboration and leadership. While the study or leadership promotes awareness, American society would actively need to change its perception of leadership to make advances in inclusion of more genders and ethnicity. In today’s society most people are likely unaware of the fact that leadership has such a masculine connotation, and that so few women are in executive positions. Thus, the study of leadership would simply teach why leadership is more masculine, when we should be asking how to change it.

  2. I think studying anything and opening it up for discussion fosters better understanding of it and creates an awareness of it that may not have existed prior. I don’t know how to feel about women redefining what it means to be a leader. I think that if you’re a leader, you’re a leader. The definition depends on the person who’s leading. So I would say the definition of leadership changes no matter who is being evaluated, male or female. It’s always changing because there isn’t a right way to lead. And the more we try to categorize leadership based on feminine and masculine, the more we retrogress rather than achieve a fairness in leadership- regardless of gender.

  3. As previously stated our study of leadership is not a common field of study. Most people have their ingrained view of what a leader should look like so it would take a while for the study to catch on. Even in leadership studies, most classes do not look at the gender difference, you often learn about men with a few women thrown in but the gender equality is often not a focus. I think that leadership studies would first have to become more inclusive before its benefits would be felt. Once that happens the best method would probably to integrate these studies into the schools,government, and corporate environments. These places would allow for the most direct impact. The effects would probably take a generation or two but once these ideas became more prevalent I think tolerance for female leaders would go up. Women are not changing the face of leadership since they have always been leaders, women are just getting more acknowledgement allowing them to make more strides toward equality.

  4. I think it is so great that we have the opportunity to take this class and learn about women and leadership! How crazy is that 30 years ago many women did not have to opportunity to have their voices heard? Although this class offers so many scholarly opportunities I also think it creates a problem with the way we will perceive ourself in leadership roles. Learning about all the hardships women have to face almost makes it a little more depressing to get involved and lead others. We are not given the respect and authority we deserve and male leaders seem to be uninterested in our wishes. Society seems to be set on having male leaders and fighting our way through those stereotypes can be a real challenge. It is going to take a huge societal change to get women in the roles they should be. Yes we are making progress but there is still a long way to go!

  5. Studying leadership and having the discussions that we have had not only in this class, but in other leadership classes, I think that there is definitely a greater understanding of what leadership is and what it looks like. But I think there are pros and cons to what leadership discussions can allow for understanding of leadership and relationships between gender and changing social norms. We can understand it better through discussion but people also have to be open to the idea that there isn’t just “male leadership” and “women leadership”. Like in the reading we did last night about “The Great Woman Theory” I think there puts some restraints on the relationship between the relationship of gender and relationship if leadership is defined in a male and female way. I think there needs to be a gender neutral way to discuss leadership and stop calling certain traits “male” or “female” to help the relationship better.


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