In our regular series by IoE researchers, Dr Karen Jones explores ‘Perspectives on women and higher education leadership from around the World’

Dr Karen Jones

Dr Karen Jones joins the blog to talk about being guest editor of a Special Issue of the journal Administrative Sciences, which brings together a variety of articles to provide perspectives on women and higher education leadership from countries as diverse as India, China, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United States and the UK.

Putting this collection of articles together was particularly interesting because each one provides unique insights and perspectives”, says Karen, who is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Management at the IOE.

Karen’s research interests include gender, women and leadership. She explained: “this is an important topic, since the significant under representation of women in higher education leadership can be observed in every country around the world. This has been well documented over the past decade in the research literature. While this research has led to a deeper understanding of the exclusionary structures, processes, and practices that collectively create obstacles for women at various career stages, higher education institutions are slow to fix the problem.”

A key contribution of this Special Issue is that it provides fascinating and unique socio-cultural insights. For instance, Kameshwara and Shukla discuss how gender relations are rooted in the socio-cultural matrix in India. Zhao and Jones draw attention to identity and Discourse as an important, yet under-researched, aspect of women’s underrepresentation in higher education leadership and they apply this to a study of female higher education leaders in China. Alsubaie and Jones, through a synthesis of existing literature, explore the complex mix of social, religious, cultural and organisational barriers for women in Saudi Arabia and make proposals for future research directions.”

The Special Issue also draws attention to structural and organisational barriers. For example, Burkinshaw and White, through two case studies – one with female Vice-Chancellors in the UK and, the second, female early career academics at an Australian university, argue that women’s growing resistance, particularly of the younger generation, reflects their dissatisfaction with higher education leadership communities of practice of masculinities. Vicary and Jones, through autoethnography, show how casual, non-permanent forms of employment that have become common practice in higher education can stifle leadership aspirations due to lack of career progression opportunities and lead to a sense of alienation from the target community of practice. Selzer, Howton and Wallace, in a co-produced autoethnography, provide a critique of a women’s-only leadership development programme in higher education in the


United States. Finally, Manifredi writes a compelling argument for positive action in recruitment and promotion to tackle women’s under-representation in senior leadership roles.”

To read more about these articles in the Special Issue “Perspectives on Women’s Higher Education Leadership from around the World” see:

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