Donne leader nell’Higher Education: esplorare i miti

Emanuela Spanò


The contribution will explore some of the gendered “myths” that has emerged in HE reforms in divergent cultural and geopolitical national contexts. More specifically, the managerialist discourse suggests that the essential ingredient in successful organisational transformation is that of leadership. In fact, leadership has replaced management in post-neo-liberal HE change discourses and has been applied as a social and organisational technology in support of the re-orientation of the public services towards the consumer-citizen. I will consider two different HE policy systems: the UK system that since the 1980s has undergone rapid and radical changes that introduced market-oriented reforms profoundly influenced by the managerialist discourse in the form of New Public Management; the Italian system that still remains rooted in the bureaucratic and professional discourses despite some timid attempts to import the “managerial recipes”. This work represents the natural prosecution of my PhD research focused on the construction of gender and leadership in different academic contexts. The twenty-four narrative interviews of women occupying roles as middle managers in one of the largest universities of the South of Italy and in different universities around England I previously collected are revisited and discussed “mapping” different aspects connected to the gendered discourse of leadership.


Keywords: gender, leadership, higher education, policy discourses


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