Management and gender in higher education

Author: Pat O’Connor

This book provides a definitive examination of higher education: exploring its nature and purpose, and locating it in the context of the state and the market. It presents new research on an elite group: senior managers in universities. They are relatively powerful in relation to their students and staff but relatively powerless in relation to wider neo-liberal forces. Written in a clear, student friendly, accessible style, and drawing on policy analysis and interviews with those at the top three levels of university management, it provides an in-depth analysis of the structures, cultures and practices at that level and locates these in a cross national context. Through the eyes of these senior managers, we are able to understand this gendered world, where four fifths of those in these positions are men, and to consider the implications of this in a world where diversity is crucial for innovation. Despite the managerialist rhetoric of accountability, we see structures where access to power is effectively through the Presidents’ ‘blessing,’ very much as in a medieval court. We see a culture that is less than comfortable with the presence of women, and which in its narratives, stereotypes and interactions exemplifies a rather 19th century view of women. Sites and agents of change are identified: both in the universities and in the wider international policy context. Essential for undergraduate and postgraduate students and their lecturers in education, management, sociology policy and gender studies, it will challenge them to critically reflect on management and on higher education.

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‘This book is essential reading for women building careers in higher education, especially those who would like to move into senior management roles. It is also important for equity practitioners and university policy-makers who, despite several decades of developing policies and strategies to improve gender equity, still struggle to achieve a critical mass of women in the professoriate and in senior leadership roles.'
Kate White Federation University, Ballarat, Australia
Journal of Higher education Policy and Management
February 2016

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