Theme 3: How leadership is exercised by women.
How leadership is exercised by women is often a contested area with expectations placed upon the individual either as an incumbent or as a seeker of formal leadership positions. Yet much of the literature points to a concern around what leadership is and illuminates how the term is neither value-free nor immutable. Instead the ‘leaderist turn’ with its links to the neo-liberal project and new managerialist (leaderist) approach raises serious questions for an educational sector which has placed, in the past, a particular emphasis upon care, nurture and community rather than on profit, and investment for personal advancement (Grogan, 2014; Grogan and Shakeshaft, 2012; Lynch et al., 2012; Morley, 2013). Simply increasing the numbers of women in educational leadership does not address the deeper problem and bring about a substantial change.
Theme 4: The place of leadership development.
The place of development opportunities, including mentoring, emerges as a crucial but contested area which goes to the heart of the enterprise of leadership and organizational culture. A mechanism of ‘well intended benevolence’ may be operating in who is offered leadership development opportunities and what those opportunities are with repercussions for the representation of women in leadership positions (Hoobler et al., 2014). Development programmes may effectively be mechanisms for ‘fixing’ the participants, with programmes becoming a ‘safe’ solution, avoiding the need to implement substantial change. There are further implications in the call for greater cultural competence of educational leaders in terms of the aims and content of development opportunities. (Lumby, 2012; Morley, 2014).