Women Deans: Patterns of Power

Women Deans: Patterns of Power

  • Publish Date: 2007-04-26
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Carol Isaac

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The purpose of Professor Isaac's study is to determine how five women leaders from male-dominated colleges and five from female-dominated fields achieved and maintained their roles. Specifically, Professor Isaac interviewed these women to examine their definitions of leadership. The term leadership metaphorically embodies a gendered division of labor where institutions are dominated by masculine structures. This research provides a better understanding of the local context of societal relationships, as men do not simply oppress women, but women can negotiate power and become leaders. Interviewees were asked questions about their backgrounds and how they use power in their daily lives. Results showed that masculine descriptions of leadership predominated, but these women stressed cooperation and service in their own definitions of leadership, and were uncomfortable with authoritative power. The interviewees desired to produce power through delegation and shared governance, but also controlled power deliberately. Their expressions of power resided in convincing faculty of organizational ownership. Women leaders who avoided aggressive strategies suffered fewer social consequences.

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