Today in many countries Mothers are celebrated. In my (Clare) family, we celebrate all women on Mother’s Day because we believe most women tend to care and nurture others. I am very fortunate to have had many wonderful women be part of my life. (Attached is a photo of my Mom and me.) My female friends and colleagues have supported and inspired me in so many ways (including Pooja, Cathy, and Yiola who are active bloggers on this site). So to all women, Happy Mother’s Day. You have made a difference in the lives of many.
In our study of literacy/English teacher educators we asked participants about their career path. They did a timeline (personal and professional) of turning points. A number have held administrative positions in the university but many found the workload crushing. So I (Clare) was very interested in the recent study, Lost leaders – Women in the Global Academy, which studied females in administrative positions in higher education. http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20140108162154821
It showed that “[g]ender equality legislation, socio-economic and de-traditionalisation factors have all played a part in this welcome trend [increase in female students in higher education], yet so far they appear to have had relatively little impact on opportunities for women to reach senior management and academic leadership positions in the sector.” Why are women under-represented in senior leadership positions in universities? In the study they found that “[m]any women … discussed the benefits of gaining power and influence in organisations to effect change. However, leadership was frequently constructed as loss – loss of status and self esteem in the case of unsuccessful applications, but loss of independence, autonomy, research time and well-being when applications were successful.”
I believe there is a real loss not only to women themselves when they choose to not pursue leadership positions but also to institutions when women are under-represented at the decision-making table. I have held a number of senior administrative positions and I can relate to feelings of loss but I also felt there were much higher expectations for me than for my male counter-parts. As a result the position became untenable. I felt it was a loss to me definitely. Was it a loss to the institution? Hhhhmmm….. Clare