Women Leaders in Higher Education: Organizational Cultures and Personal Resilience


  • Vivienne Griffiths Canterbury Christ Church University




Women leaders, leadership, gender and higher education, new managerialism


In this article, findings are presented from a study of women leaders in higher education, carried out in two universities in England, focusing particularly on the perspectives of women in a range of leadership roles in a new university. 18 women leaders were interviewed about their experiences of leadership, including day to day and strategic work, relationships with colleagues and forms of support. The analysis draws on a feminist theoretical framework in a changing global context for women in higher education. As in Airini et al. (2011), findings show a close interaction between personal, professional and organizational factors. The new university provided a positive context in terms of numbers of women in senior positions, as well as leadership training, mentoring and female role models, in contrast to the old university where women leaders were still in the minority. The women leaders demonstrated highly skilful, principled leadership styles and a blend of inclusive, collegial approaches with direction and vision. It is argued that a balance was maintained at the new university between new managerialism and a caring ethos, which provided a supportive context for women leaders.


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Author Biography

Vivienne Griffiths, Canterbury Christ Church University

Professor of Education

Director of Research, Faculty of Education


Author’s references removed for reviewing purposes.

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How to Cite

Griffiths, V. (2012). Women Leaders in Higher Education: Organizational Cultures and Personal Resilience. Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies, 1(1), 70–94. https://doi.org/10.4471/generos.2012.04