4.6 Women and the leaderist turn in education
Morley, L. (2013) The rules of the game: women and the leaderist turn in higher education. Gender and Education 25(1), 116-131.
Louise Morley, based at the University of Sussex, is concerned with how ‘gender and power interact with leadership in higher education’. This has importance for all sectors of education in that it goes beyond those ‘pipeline’ explanations for the absence of women from leadership positions which simply state that waiting will improve things. After outlining how leadership in educational organizations ‘has developed into a popular descriptor and a dominant social and organisational technology’ (p.116), she considers how the ‘rules of the game’ operate to marginalise women’s practice and aspirations within these institutions.
O’Reilly and Reed (2010, 2011) characterise the new managerialist re-orientation of public services towards the consumer-citizen as being undertaken through the appropriation and reconstitution of ‘leadership’ as a social and organisational technology. They give the name ‘leaderism’ to this ‘organisational panacea’. Morley stresses that ‘the leaderist turn is not innocent’ but the emphasis on the individual leader seeks to divert attention from the commercial and value shift.
The norm-saturated narratives of how certain people are identified or identify themselves as legitimate and intelligible leaders are open to further investigation. There is an assumption that individual agency, unimpeachable characteristics and structural positions will result in some organisational members being authorised to exert and display leadership power. (p.117)