The problematic persistence of gender reflexivity in women's leadership development



Perriton L (2022) The problematic persistence of gender reflexivity in women's leadership development. Journal of Management Development, 41 (5), pp. 335-347.

Purpose: Research on women’s leadership development over the past two decades has seen a move away from feminist theory that embeds action at a structural level as the objective of consciousness raising realised during the programme. The purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of the stalling of collective action needed to challenge the continued under-representation of women in leadership roles. Design/Methodology/Approach: The paper is conceptual. Gender reflexivity - as the basis for claims within WLDPs that are based on identity work to enable wider transformation of organisations in respect of structural barriers - is examined and critiqued. Findings: Women’s leadership development is unlikely to be able to used as a vehicle for structural change whilst it remains focused on self-acceptance, self-management, and self-development of the individual participants. Gender reflexivity, as the warrant for change and transformation, is not used in a way that can deliver organisational change. Part of this is the way in which it is mis-applied within HRD and part of this is the continued lack of framing WLDP as a historical practice in support of the current logic of leadership. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the development of a critical approach to women’s leadership development from a feminist theory perspective.

Leadership development; feminism; gender reflexivity

Journal of Management Development: Volume 41, Issue 5

Publication date18/08/2022
Publication date online11/08/2022
Date accepted by journal26/07/2022

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Professor Linda Perriton

Professor Linda Perriton

Professor, Management, Work and Organisation