“Feminizing” middle management? An inquiry into the gendered subtexts in university department headship
From SAGE Open
This article summarizes a number of issues emerging in a research in progress that is concerned with the analysis of university department headship from a gender perspective. It aims to adopt a cultural approach to the gender–organization relationship, making the gender subtexts in the cultural meanings underpinning life at university departments explicit. In this study 20 women talk about their experience as heads of departments at three different universities in the city ofBarcelona(Spain).
Most of these women depict their headship in terms of housecare and describe their role as managers by fallin back on the image of a housewife. This gender script implies a devaluation of middle management that stands in sharp contrast with images of empowerment and feminine leadership that literature on the topic normally portrays. In fact, most of these women hardly see themselves as leaders—at best, they exercise what might be called a “marginal leadership.”