It has long been established that neoliberal reforms and restructuring of higher education and higher educational organisations - in order to cater for the global knowledge economy - have reshaped the ways in which women negotiate the dilemmas they face in leadership and managerial roles in universities (e.g. Blackmore & Sachs 2007; Blackmore 2010). While these studies are very valuable, we still need to understand the diverging forms that gendered social relations take in different contexts - hence, the complex dynamics between local, national and transnational historical, social and political processes. For that purpose, ethnographic explorations of the situated experiences of everyday life, constitute a valuable approach. This paper draws on theories of feminist intersectionality (Søndergaard 2005a; Søndergaard 2005b; Staunæs 2003; Staunæs & Søndergaard 2011; Davies 2008; Collins 1998 ) to ask what constitutes the nature of gendered and intersecting social relations of academic leadership within two rather different socio-political contexts. The study is based on in-depth ethnographic interviews with female academic leaders within faculties of Science and faculties of Humanities in a number of regional and metropolitan universities in New Zealand and Denmark. We explore how they negotiate their managerial practice with discourses, subject positions and forms of power related to gender, disciplinary position/particularities, class, age/generation, sexuality, ethnicity and English language proficiency.
At the forefront of the paper will be reflexive engagement with the complex dynamics of producing ethnographic data and interviews on gender and intersectionality ( e.g. Okely 1992; Okely & Callaway 1992; England 1994; Davies 1999). We reflect upon how the diverging subject positions of the authors, leads to the production of particular types of knowledge. We also reflect on how the differences in the dynamics between researchers and research participant, as well as the particularities of working culture, allow for different degrees of reflexive awareness of and openness about the struggles of negotiating gender and intersectionality, as well as working life and private life within contemporary academia.
Blackmore, Jill & Sachs, Judyth (2007) Performing and reforming leaders: gender, educational restructuring and Organizational Change. New York: State University of New York Press. Blackmore, Jill (2010) ‘“The Other Within”: Race/Gender Disruptions to the Professional Learning of White Educational Leaders’, International Journal of Leadership in Education 13 (1): 45-61. DOI: 10.1080/13603120903242931 Collins, Patricia Hill (1998) ‘It's All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race and Family’, Hypatia 13 (3): 62-82. Accessed on 10 April 2014 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3810699 Davies, Charlotte Aull (1999) Reflexive Ethnography: A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. New York, NY: Routledge. Davies, Kathy (2008) ‘Intersectionality as Buzzword: A Sociology of Science Perspective on What Makes a Feminist Theory Successful’, Feminist Theory 9 (1): 67-85. DOI: 10.1177/1464700108086364 England, Kim V. L. (1994) ‘Getting Personal: Reflexivity, Positionality, and Feminist Research’, The Professional Geographer 46 (1): 80-89. DOI: 10.1111/j.0033- 0124.1994.00080.x Okely, Judith (1992) ‘Anthropology and Autobiography: Participatory Experience and Embodied Knowledge’, pp. 1-28 in Okely, J. and Callaway, H. (eds.) Anthropology and Autobiography. New York: Routledge. Okely, Judith and Callaway, Helen (eds.) (1992) Anthropology and Autobiography. London: Routledge. Søndergaard, Dorte Marie (2001) ‘Consensual and Disensual University Cultures: Gender and Power in Academia’, NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 9 (3): 143-153. DOI: 10.1080/713801036 Søndergaard, Dorte Marie (2005a) ‘Academic Desire Trajectories: Retooling the C oncepts of Subject, Desire and Biography’, European Journal of Women's Studies 12 (3): 297-313. DOI: 10.1177/1350506805054270 Søndergaard, Dorte Marie (2005b) ‘Making Sense of Gender, Age, Power and Disciplinary Position: Intersecting Discourses in the Academy’, Feminism and Psychology 15 (2): 189-208. DOI: 10.1177/0959353505051728 Staunæs, Dorthe (2003) ‘Where Have All the Subjects Gone? Bring Together the Concepts of Intersectionality and Subjectification’, NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 11 (2): 101-110. DOI: 10.1080/08038740310002950 Staunæs, Dorthe and Søndergaard, Dorte Marie (2011) ‘Intersectionality: A Theoretical Adjustment’, pp. 45-59 in Buikema, R., Griffin, G. and Lykke, N. (eds.) Theories and Methodologies in Postgraduate Feminist Research. London, UK Routledge
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