Leadership, Gender and Diversity

Leadership, Gender and Diversity
Study Unit 7 – Activities
Rana Barazi
6 July 2022

Activity A

• Watch the clip – at least the first 20 minutes
https://youtu.be/FRlI2SQ0Ueg
• Note down in your learning diaries any links to the discussions from your
text book and articles.

A Feminine Advantage?

Structural Power: Exploring the Glass Ceiling
• invisible barrier hinders women / other minorities from reaching
elite leadership positions despite their qualifications

Although more women are now in managerial positions but still:
• an absence of women in higher positions
• a continued pay gap
• fewer opportunities for women to enter social networks

Reasons for the Glass Ceiling

Human Capital Differences: women have relatively less education, training and
work experience due to:

• culturally, socially and legally ingrained notion of childbearing and rearing responsibilities
• taking more time out of work, seeking less full-time employment, dropping out of
employment more often and finding re-entry into employment more difficult than men
! Yet, numbers of female graduates are rising in many countries and so is the active choice
of women not to have children
• Gender difference and prejudice because women
• Have weaker access to informal mentoring relationships and development opportunities
• Are more represented in organisational roles that do not lead to top leadership positions
• Show relative hesitance to identify themselves and promote themselves as leaders

So…. A problem to be resolved remains
How do we define gender?
Are our attempts to define gender perpetuating stereotypes
rather than getting rid of them?

Diversity Beyond Gender

Activity B

Read the two articles:
• Mavin S., Elliott C, Stead V., Williams J (2018) Economies of visibility as a moderator of
feminism: ‘Never mind Brexit. Who won Legs-it!’ Gender, Work & Organization. DOI:
10.1111/gwao.12291
• Ford, J. (2010) Studying Leadership Critically: A Psychosocial Lens on Leadership
Identities. Leadership 6: 47. DOI: 10.1177/1742715009354235
• Write the full reference for each article
• Note down 2-3 main argument points made by each article
• Note down any critical views expressed in each article about leadership, gender and diversity
What are the implications for your understanding of effective leadership?
• Make notes in your learning diaries.

Article 1 – Economies of visibility as a moderator of feminism:
‘Never mind Brexit. Who won Legs‐it!’. Sharon Mavin et al.

• How economies of visibility moderate feminism and tie women leaders in various
ways to their bodies; commodities constantly scrutinized/examined.
• How media insist upon femininity through appearance from women leaders,
serving to moderate power and feminist potential.
• Consider complexities attached to public consumption of powerful women’s
constructions, set up in opposition, where sexism is visible and spontaneous.
• This fortifies moderate feminism and provokes feminism.
• The insistence on femininity disrupts, through an arousal of audible and
commanding feminist voices, to reconnect with the political project of women’s
equality.

Article 1 – Economies of visibility as a moderator of feminism:
‘Never mind Brexit. Who won Legs‐it!’. Sharon Mavin et al.

The various ways in which women leaders are tied to their bodies:
• how their bodies are commodified
• how they themselves engage in this commodification
• how the media women consumers are fragmented in their responses
• how the British media insist upon femininity from women leaders, demonstrated through
their appearance
• how they are sexualized and infantilized
• how their power and potential for feminism is diffused and moderated
• how women leaders are set up in competition and opposition with each other
• In doing so we also advance research into how UK media constructs women as out of place as
political leaders
Article 1 – Economies of visibility as a moderator of feminism:
‘Never mind Brexit. Who won Legs‐it!’. Sharon Mavin et al.

Article 1 – Economies of visibility as a moderator of feminism:
‘Never mind Brexit. Who won Legs‐it!’. Sharon Mavin et al.

Assumption: economies of visibility act as a moderating force on feminism in that ‘a
postfeminist cultural landscape, neoliberal capitalism and the normalization of the
brand and lifestyle of “girl power” sees organizations treat girls and women as
investments upon which organizations can thrive’
This visual inscription of the body manifested in cinema, television, video and the
representation of bodies as kinds of commodities.
How economies of visibility work in an era of advanced capitalism, brand culture,
post-feminism and multiple media platforms.

Article 1 – Economies of visibility as a moderator of feminism:
‘Never mind Brexit. Who won Legs‐it!’. Sharon Mavin et al.

• Women leaders’ :
o are a bodies’ exhibition and commodity ripe for evaluation and scrutiny.
o are tied to their bodies: ‘Visible bodies — Invisible leaders’; ‘Visible bodies —
Femininity is insisted upon’; ‘Visible branding by women leaders’; ‘Visible
fragmentation between women’; ‘Female Misogyny is Invisible’; ‘Feminism is
Invisible’ and ‘Sexism is Invisible’.
• Through a multimodal media analysis of UK women political leaders, new
understandings of economies of visibility as:
o a moderator of feminism.
o an analytical lens to surface how these women political leaders are commodified
and their bodies sold to consumers.

Article 2 – Jackie Ford
Studying Leadership Critically: A Psychosocial Lens on Leadership Identities

Aims:
• qualitative research to examine contextual variables within studies of leadership, gender
and managerial behaviour
• Explores a new approach to theorizing and researching leadership in organizations
through drawing on psychoanalytic perspectives that develop a more critical interrelated
psychosocial analysis of leaders biographical narratives
• Presents a critical exploration of the narrated lives and experiences of leaders in a UK local
government organization
• Examines the importance of exploring leadership dynamics through poststructuralist
feminist lenses.

Article 2 – Jackie Ford
Studying Leadership Critically: A Psychosocial Lens on Leadership Identities

• A more reflexive approach to leadership study pays attention to:
• situations, events, institutions, ideas, social practices and processes;
• culturally sensitive and locally based interpretive approach, that considers individual’s experiences, identities, power relations and
intersubjectivities, • allows for the presence of a range of both ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ workplace behaviours
• Current leadership discourses involve strong elements of masculinity that act to strengthen male identities and reproduce asymmetrical gender relations in organizational life.
• Leadership support notions of / take the form of masculine, competitive, aggressive, controlling,
manipulative, self-reliant, individualist practices
• Leadership is constructed through a leader–follower pairing, with the followers being the (sub-ordinated)
other to the leader’s (dominant) position • followers are placed in a feminized position.

Article 2 – Jackie Ford
Studying Leadership Critically: A Psychosocial Lens on Leadership Identities

• The analysis concludes that leaders:
• are not transcendental
• are not homogeneous
• construct multiple, competing and ambiguous narratives of the selves
• are impacted by the contextual location and partiality of accounts of leadership
• recognise that sense of selves are not only entwined within the context and the
situations in which they are performed, but also within the hegemonic discourses and
culturally shaped narrative conventions.

Article 2 – Jackie Ford
Studying Leadership Critically: A Psychosocial Lens on Leadership Identities

• Many studies continue to construct a vision of an omnipotent, transcendental being of a leader  this has to be challenged: no
one can be that person.
• Research seem to lose the individual in their explorations and neglect to consider the impact on peoples’ senses of who they are
and where they are going.
• What is striking is that the roles of leader appear to be inherently anxiety creating. This is in contradiction to how leaders are
perceived in the academic and practitioner writing on leadership.
• How can organizations tackle this uncertainty and ambiguity for managers? There is a need to recognize the impossibility of the
perfect being, and a realization of the endless variety of narratives of the self that managers may present.
• How even managers who are receptive to the latest models of leadership also carried with them other ways of doing management
and leadership, and other ways of performing as leaders within the organization.
• These managers adopted the language of dominant discourses of leadership, but their actions were obscured by paradoxical and
perhaps unintended consequences and outcomes. Contemporary approaches may not do justice to such complexity. Mainstream
accounts appear to take too lightly the insecurity, anxiety and ambiguity in the lives of managers.
• Leaders have multiple, competing and ambiguous narratives of the self. Psychoanalytic theory and the psychosocial analyses
provide an alternative way of theorizing and researching leadership in organizations.
• Key to this more critical approach is the contextual location and partiality of accounts of leadership, and the recognition that our
sense of selves are not only entwined within the context and the situations in which they are performed, but also within the
hegemonic discourses and culturally shaped narrative conventions. Exploring a case study of one manager’s account through
psychosocial lenses provides an opportunity to recognize how leaders may unconsciously self-limit their leadership identities,
and through this, to generate considerable anxiety.