Gender & Educational Leadership

Back to Interest Groups

The Gender and Educational Leadership RIG is open to all those who have an interest in gender and leadership in its broadest sense, including educational leaders, researchers and research students.

The aim is to build a forum and network capable of generating and facilitating exchange and partnership on a continuing basis across the full range of research interests, professional contexts and contemporary issues related to gender and leadership.

Initial interest has been established in working on gendered leadership that draws on multiple gender and leadership theories.

Colleagues might locate their thinking in:

  • second wave feminist gender theories of equality and difference;
  • poststructural gender theory of Judith Butler;
  • Raewyn Connell’s notion of multiple masculinities;
  • postcolonial feminism; and
  • Becky Francis’s concept of gender heteroglossia.

The group might appeal to colleagues researching the gendered work of senior leadership teams, a recommendation made in the NASUWT report (2008, 2010). Following Charol Shakeshaft and Marianne Coleman amongst others, some colleagues might be interested in exploring the leadership of women. Others might want to explore the multiplicity of masculinities amongst school leaders as men. A link between the gendered performance of leaders, teachers and adults working in schools might be made with the exploration of gender stereotypes in the classroom. Links might also be made with a feminist/(pro)feminist approach to Leadership for Social Justice and Critical Leadership Scholarship.

Following an initial meeting between the co-convenors, the RIG was launched at the Institute of Education in London on 23 April 2013. Dr Marianne Coleman gave the keynote and helped the group to identify some key themes for research and discussion such as intersectionality, younger leaders and non-Western environments as priorities for the future.

Papers were given as follows:

  1. Mapping Women Academics’ Careers in Pakistan – Dr Saeeda Shah, University of Leicester, Dr Victoria Showunmi, UCL, and Dr Tamjid Mujtaba, UCL
  2. Talking the Walk: should CEOs think more about sex? Dr Julia Ibbotson, University of Derby
  3. Responses to Rejection: the experiences of six women early career researchers in the Education department of an English university – Dr Justine Mercer, University of Warwick
  4. Student teachers’ leadership aspirations Dr Joan Smith, University of Leicester
  5. The professional journey of female secondary school principal leadership: evidence from a small-scale study in Athens, Greece Dr Maria Kaparou, University of Warwick.

At a seminar at the University of Birmingham in March 2014, the group took intersectionality as its theme. Professor Jackie Lumby gave the keynote followed by papers focused on the intersection of gender and race and/or a range of characteristics:

  1. Constructing a leader’s identity through a leadership development programme: An intersectional analysis, Dr Pontso Moorosi, University of Bedfordshire
  2. ‘I am a Muslim Woman!’ Identity constructions and intersectionality: Perception of Muslim Women Leaders in Malaysian Universities, Dr Saeeda Shah, University of Leicester
  3. Does Identity Have an Impact on Your Leadership Style? Dr Victoria Showunmi, UCL
  4. Towards a Framework for Thinking about Intersectionality in Leadership Dr Kay Fuller, University of Birmingham.

At a seminar, hosted at the City of London Academy in Islington held in June 2015, Dr Kay Fuller, Dr Becky Allen and Dr Karen Edge presented short papers. The event was interactive with delegates identifying issues as they saw them around gender and school leadership.

The first ‘Gender, Leadership and Education’ Conference took place at the University of Leicester in October 2015.

Themes were identified from papers as:

  • Gender, leadership and secondary education: international perspectives
  • Women in Higher Education
  • Critical perspectives on gender, leadership and education
  • Black women leaders’ experiences of leadership and education
  • Gender, educational institutions and women’s careers
  • Developing women leaders.

The conference was well attended with papers reflecting work from Pakistan, Cyprus, England, Kenya and Korea. Research into gender and leadership was disseminated relating to the contexts of Early Years to Higher Education.

On June 20th 2016, the group organised a Festschrift to celebrate Marianne Coleman’s research career.


Benefits from participation will include:

  • Membership of a community of learners engaged in advancing the understanding of gender and leadership
  • The opportunity to collaborate or correspond with colleagues engaged in similar studies, research or activity
  • The opportunity to identify and explore contemporary issues linked to gender and leadership
  • Participation in future events specifically covering issues related to gender and leadership

We are keen to hear from members of BELMAS who are interested in gender and leadership.


Dr Kay Fuller – University of Nottingham

Dr Pontso Moorosi – University of Warwick

Dr Saeeda Shah – University of Leicester

Dr Victoria Showunmi – University College London

To view the full content of this group you must join the RIG. Click the button below or tick the relevant RIG groups on your My Details page.